Wednesday, June 29, 2011

BingoGate: Gilley’s testimony provides peek into the future

image As expected, defense attorneys in USA vs McGregor et al mounted a determined assault on confessed conspirator Ronnie Gilley. During cross examination yesterday, lawyers for the accused co-conspirators lined up and threw their best punches at the owner of Country Crossings, trying their best to destroy his credibility and paint him as a snitch who told a big story just to avoid serious jail time.

Gilley, indicted along with fellow casino owner Milton McGregor, an army of lobbyists and a cabal of legislators last fall on charges of conspiracy, bribery, money laundering and fraud, pled guilty and is a key witness for the prosecution.

Gilley told the jury yesterday that he was hopelessly in debt—up to $160 million—and admitted that he pled guilty in exchange that prosecutors would recommend a more lenient sentence. At times calm and collected, at others testy and combative, Gilley denied that he was the instigator in the scheme to bribe legislators in exchange for their votes on a bill that would have put a constitutional amendment to legalize gambling on the 2010 ballot.

It was this exchange that piques the interest of folks wondering where all of this might lead:

2:45 p.m. – Ronnie Gilley and the attorney for Jay Walker gave the strongest indication since indictments were returned against 11 people last October that the FBI and Department of Justice is continuing its public corruption investigation.

During a line of questioning about Gilley’s plea agreement, Walker attorney Susan James asked Gilley about his sentencing, currently scheduled for Nov. 15.

James: “One the day or night before you were released from jail, did you not tell Mark Sheldon (Gilley employee) that you would not be sentenced in November?

Gilley: “I probably did.”

James: “You may be on the witness stand in a lot of cases in the future, is that correct?

Gilley: "Possibly."

During several pre-trial hearings leading up to the June trial, the government has sought to keep several documents under seal, citing an ongoing investigation.

Gilley indicated Tuesday he is expected to continue cooperating with the government after the conclusion of this trial.

If you’re a regular IBCR reader, you first learned of the pre-trial wrangling right here. Before Christmas 2010, attorneys for Milton McGregor, Tom Coker and Bob Geddie all filed motions to compel the government to release certain evidence. The government resisted, citing an ongoing probe that had expanded beyond the original indictment handed down last October. Gilley’s testimony under cross examination provides the strongest indication yet that the probe—or probes—will continue well past this trial.

The government is extraordinarily tight-lipped about this probe. Recall that in the current case, FBI agents held meetings with some of the legislators involved in the 2010 push for the gambling referendum, and let them know that they and others might be targets of a criminal investigation. No such courtesy has been extended on the expanded probe, so we still don’t know who or what the targets are. But it’s safe to say that the much anticipated “second round” of indictments—which even this blog expected to be handed down months ago—may still yet be months away.

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