Sunday, June 26, 2011

Colorful quotes, facts from week 3 of gambling trial

The testimony in the feder­al corruption trial of Victory­ Land owner Milton McGregor and eight other defendants of­ ten has been colorful and in­ triguing, but not all of that has found its way into the Mont­gomery Advertiser.The following are some comments, quotes and tidbits from the third week of the trial accusing the nine defendants of a scheme to pass legislation that would have helped casinos in the state.

Legal argument

In a conversation taped by state Rep. Barry Mask, McGre­ gor tried to convince him his operation was legal. "No kind of lending institution would lend that kind of money if it was not legal," McGregor said of the tens of millions he bor­ rowed to build at his casino.

Hypocritical hobby?

"We love to play cards," Mask said when asked about playing poker. Joe Espy, an attorney for McGregor, questioned Mask publicly criticizing gambling while playing poker with his friends.

No numbers

"We can hardly get their numbers from them to know what it is," Mask said when asked about the economic impact of the Creek casino in his district, which includes parts of Elmore and Coosa counties.

No complaints

Jim Sumner, director of the Alabama Ethics Commission, said no one has ever filed an ethics complaint against Coker or fellow lobbyist Bob Geddie, who is also a defendant.

PR disaster

Mask, when asked if he had concerns about the raids on casinos in the state, said, "I sorta did." He told McGregor in a taped conversation, "I didn't like that. That has been a public relations disaster."

Hard feelings

Mask told McGregor that he felt that McGregor and Paul Hubbert of the Alabama Education Association pushed too hard for Tallassee Mayor Bobby Payne in their 2006 special election campaign for the Legislature.

Hired help

McGregor, in April 2010, was paying Fine Geddie & Associates $8,333.33 a month to lobby for him.

Friendly hire

Gilley said he hired lobbyist Claire Austin at the request of Sen. Harri Anne Smith of Slocomb, one of the defendants. He said Massey paid Austin directly, but the money came from him.

Tipped off

Lewis said Alabama Republican Party chairman Mike Hubbard, who was also House minority leader at the time, told him another Republican was "wired."

Entertaining job

Gilley said he got involved in the entertainment industry after hearing a CD made by a "kid who worked for my construction company." Gilley said that 13 months after he listened to the CD, the young man received a major record deal. "It was a pure accident," Gilley said. Gilley, at times, also owned chicken houses, a hog farm, delivered furniture, owned a lawn-care business, owned record labels, and built and sold homes.


"You don't know if Mr. Gilley and Mr. Massey have had some kind of experience like St. Paul on the road to Damascus," Bill Baxley, an at­ torney for indicted lobbyist Tom Coker, asked former state Rep. Benjamin Lewis, a key government witness. Jarrod Massey, who was Gilley's lob­ byist, also pleaded guilty.

Major investor

"He now owned more of Country Crossing than I did," developer Ronnie Gilley said of McGregor.

Alternative education

Gilley said he went to col­ lege for less than a year but "graduated from Hard Knock University."

Still standing

"If we fail, the only thing left standing is the Indians," McGregor said on tape of the so-called Sweet Home Alabama bill that would have legalized electronic gambling and taxed it.


"You're not going to hear me on these tapes disagree with anything Mr. McGregor asked me to do," Gilley said. He also said, "I grew up admiring Mr. McGregor" and "Mr. McGregor is much more poised than I am." Gilley also said he had dated McGregor's oldest daughter.

Playing along

"I have a lot of respect for you. You remind me a lot of my dad," Mask said to McGregor. He said he was playing a role in the conversations he taped for the FBI.

Second effort

"We're pursuing it again now as we speak," Gilley said of Little Nashville project that he tried before Country Crossing.

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