The Great Alabama Bingo Trial Redux

According to several bingo news sources a second trial for 9 defendants that were acquitted in a previous trial for political corruption related to electronic bingo in the state of Alabama. Despite the fact that all nine defendants were acquitted of the 91 counts against them hotshot federal prosecutors seem bent on wasting taxpayer resources for a second bite at the apple. At the first trial federal prosecutors tried a massive corruption case involving state senators and lobbyists accused of trying to bribe them. During the first trial an Alabama legal commentator described the trial as “a flat-out farce.”

In one of the cases Milton McGregor, who owns the Victory casino near Montgomery was alleged to be the mastermind behind a scheme to bribe politicians to make sure online bingo would be legal in the state. Defendants included two state senators, two former state senators and McGregor. The trial has received extensive coverage because prosecutors had closed down two popular casinos and put thousands out of work. The popular blog Legal Schnauzer called the trial a travesty of justice and said it shows that the Obama administration is just as willing to waste taxpayer resources on selective enforcement as the Bush administration was.

Despite one of the worst defeats for federal prosecutors in decades prosecutors insisted on retrying the defendants. VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor, lobbyist Tom Coker, former Senators Jim Preuitt and Larry Means, Sen. Harri Anne Smith and former Country Crossing spokesperson Jay Walker are all charged with bribery and conspiracy. Smith is facing money laundering charges and Preuitt faces a charge of making false statements to investigators. Federal prosecutors accuse the defendants of a conspiracy to ensure the passage of pro gambling legislation in 2009 and 2010.

Jury selection has started and prosecution witnesses include former State Rep. Terry Spicer who is also a championship boxer. Rumors indicate that former Governor Riley and infamous lobbyist Jack Abramoff may be called to testify. Riley had been publicly opposed to gambling but recently an advocacy group revealed that Riley and his associated secretly took over $27 million from gambling interests. $13 million came from Mississippi casino interests that did not want competition in Alabama. Opening arguments will not take place until a jury has been selected.

Federal prosecutor Kendall Day said that despite the new additions the trial will be based on the same evidence as the first unsuccessful trial. Since the defendants were found innocent during the first trial many are wondering if the new trial is just a vendetta by humiliated prosecutors. Bingo news sources on both sides of the Atlantic will be following the new trial closely.