Tuesday, February 8, 2011

BingoGate: Gilley bond revoked, Massey fingers another legislator

image The high drama predicted for this week seems to be well under way, doesn’t it?

During yesterday’s bond revocation hearing before US Magistrate Terry Moorer, lobbyist Jarrod Massey confessed to keeping former State Representative Terry Spicer (D-Elba) on a “retainer,” sending thousands of dollars a month in exchange for Spicer steering new lobbying clients to Massey’s firm.

Appearing in yellow jail apparel with fashionable leg iron accessories, Massey also explained how casino owner Ronnie Gilley offered him a stake in his Country Crossings Casino in Dothan and a planned new Mississippi Casino:

Massey testified this morning that he believed Gilley offered him a piece of his casino developments to "hold the line" on a false story to mislead federal investigators looking into allegations of buying and selling votes on a gambling bill before the Legislature last year.

Prosecutors allege Gilley, one of 11 people indicted on the allegations, violated the terms of his bond by trying to coax Massey into not cooperating with federal agents.

Massey testified that, after it became apparent federal investigators were looking into the situation, Gilley offered him an equity piece of Country Crossing, a casino near Dothan, and of a proposed Mississippi casino. The investments would have been worth up to $1 million a year, he said.

"My understanding was I was being incentivized to basically toe the line," Massey."This was an incentive to hold the line with the story," he said.

Massey said he and Gilley had agreed they would try to cover up a business deal that had been offered to Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, in exchange for a yes vote on a gambling bill by saying Beason approached them with the offer.

What they didn’t know hurt’em pretty badly. Scott Beason was cooperating with federal investigators at the time and wore a wire to meetings he had with Gilley, Massey and others connected with the vote buying scheme that led to the arrests of Milton McGregor and ten others last October.

But getting back to the Spicer story. Would anyone like to take a guess where this gentlemen went to school? Yep. He’s All In the Fambly. Spicer has not been charged with a crime (yet) and media attempts to reach him yesterday were unsuccessful, despite the fact that the former state legislator is the top dude at the Elba public schools. You’d think that a school system superintendent would be pretty easy to locate, right? I mean, there’s a secretary, and administrative assistant or associate superintendent who always knows where the big guy is.

What’s he hiding from?

Is the Spicer angle part of  the expanded federal probe that we learned about last month? Perhaps—the government isn’t talking and it’s anybody’s guess. Is Spicer the person of interest that the Coker defense team wants identified? My guess: Probably not, as simply having another conspirator identified in the case doesn’t really help one defend against charges of um… conspiracy.

Another hearing is scheduled for today. This one is CLOSED to the public and will address the Coker and McGregor motions to compel and the government’s request for a protective order related to those motions.

Extra point: Might there be one or more “surprise witnesses” at today’s hearing? I sure hope the local media has photographers stationed around the Federal Courthouse in Montgomery. You just never know who might show up…

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