Monday, February 7, 2011

BingoGate: High drama and intrigue set for this week

image In the ongoing BingoGate case, some potential for high drama and investigative intrigue exists in the coming days. This morning, the court will entertain arguments during a hearing on the government’s request to revoke the bond of indicted casino owner Ronald Gilley. The court had originally scheduled the hearing for last week, but agreed to move the date so that Gilley could get treatment for an undisclosed medical condition (I’m laying eight-to-five odds that it’s a blood pressure issue).

But also this week is a CLOSED hearing before US Magistrate Judge Wallace Capel, where the Court will hear oral arguments on motions from Tom Coker and Milton McGregor to compel the release of certain information being held by the prosecution.

Specifically, defendant Coker wants the government to reveal the identity of an individual who, apparently, was heard on one or more of the government’s intercepted conversations. It is widely believed that this individual incriminated himself, Coker or an as-yet unnamed person of interest. The government turned over all of the wiretap binders on January 18. Within days, Coker’s defense team filed a motion (under seal) to learn the individual’s identity.

Recall that Coker, along with co-defendant and Auburn graduate Robert Geddie, both worked for Casino owner, Auburn booster and Colonial Bank director Milton McGregor in the alleged conspiracy to commit bribery, extortion, fraud and money laundering in connection with the gambling legislation moving through the Alabama Legislature in the 2010 session.

In response to the motions by Coker and McGregor, the government has requested that the Court issue a protective order on the information the prosecution is being asked to turn over. This essentially means that the government does not necessarily object to defendant Coker’s learning of the identity, or to McGregor gaining access to the information he seeks, but the information is sensitive enough to ask the court for a “gag order.”

Extra Point: What are the odds that the information—including the identity of the unknown individual—is exculpatory? My guess: pretty doggone low. Part of the prosecution’s team is none other than Brenda Morris. Morris is a tough, career prosecutor with DOJ’s Criminal Division, but she’s not without controversy. Morris was part of the badly bungled prosecution of Alaska’s former Senator Ted Stevens. One of the key issues in that case was whether Morris and her team mishandled evidence and violated federal rules of criminal procedure. In other words, this team has been stung once by allegations that they didn’t turn over potentially exculpatory evidence and they’re not likely to repeat those mistakes.

Getcha some popcorn, sports fans…

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Unknown said...

Great article man. Keep up the good work. You've got many eyes watching and waiting and we all appreciate your efforts.

It's only a matter of time!

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