Alabama Bingo Trial Results in Prison Sentences

The great Alabama bingo scandal has finally come to an end. Twice vindictive federal prosecutors tried several defendants and twice the defendants were acquitted. Federal prosecutors finally got their pound of flesh with the lengthy sentenced of several defendants. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson sentenced casino developer Ronnie Gilley to a whopping to six years and eight months in prison. For trying to bribe lawmakers Jarrod Massey, Gilley’s former lobbyist, was sentenced to five years and five months in prison for bribery. Former Alabama representative Terry Spicer was sentenced to four years and nine months after admitting to taking monthly cash payments from Massey.

Judge Thompson handed down the sentences after a day of testimony from friends and families of the defendants. The three defendants expressed remorse and described the toll the trial has taken on their families. Gilley told the court “I’m ashamed of myself. I’m not going to sit up here and make up excuses.” The three defendants must report to prison by August 27th. Prosecutors had argued that the men deserved serious prison time because of the seriousness of their crimes. Gilley and Massey pleaded guilty to offering lawmakers millions in campaign contributions in an attempt to win favorable votes on 2010 gambling legislation. The legislation would have shielded Gilley’s electronic bingo casinos from state efforts to shut them down.  The law would have held a statewide referendum on the legality of electronic bingo machines in the state.

The sentencing hearing was the culmination of a federal investigation that led to the indictments of several legislators. Massey and Gilley testified against their co-defendants including VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor and two current and two former state lawmakers.  The original case resulted in no convictions after two trials. Judge Thompson gave Gilley much less than the 105 months vindictive prosecutors were seeking. Gilley had requested home confinement and weekends in the Coffee County jail. Gilley’s lawyer described his client as naïve about politics and unsure about the fine line between lobbying and bribery.

Massey told Thompson he had become caught up in the competitive atmosphere of lobbying and was consumed by ‘winning.’ Massey told the court “We let winning cloud our judgment very poorly. I knew better.” Massey wiped tears as he described what the ordeal had done to his sons and said “The toughest thing is knowing the road I’ve created for my family, my two boys, financially and otherwise.” Prosecutors remained unmoved by the testimony.