Ronnie Gilley enters Guilty plea in Alabama bribery case

Apr 25, 2011 8:01 PM

Federal prosecutors were celebrating a major victory over the weekend with the announcement that a prominent casino developer pleaded guilty in Alabama’s political corruption probe that ensnared a dozen people.

Ronnie Gilley, owner of the closed Country Crossing Casino in Dothan, pleaded guilty after agreeing to a deal prosecutors said could result in a 21-year prison sentence. Sentencing was set for Nov. 15.

Gilley and VictoryLand Greyhound Park owner Milton MacGregor were arrested in October, 2010, along with four present and former legislators, as well as several lobbyists, on charges of attempting to buy votes to get the legislature to pass a constitutional amendment that would have allowed the casinos to continue operating their bingo-type slot machines.

There are now three guilty pleas in the case. Gilley joined Jarrod Massey and Jennifer Pouncy, two of his lobbyists, in plea deals. The lobbyists said they had offered millions in bribes for their client, Gilley.

The turning point for Gilley, said prosecutors, came when the federal judge refused to toss out information obtained through FBI wiretaps on Gilley’s telephones.

Despite the telephone tapes and Gilley’s admissions, Atty. Joe Espy said his client, McGregor, was looking forward to demonstrating his innocence when he goes on trial June 6 with eight other defendants.

Gilley’s plea agreement calls for him to forfeit $200,000 and to receive a prison sentence ranging from 21 years 10 months to 27 years and three months. Officials indicated, however, the sentencing could be reduced if he cooperates fully, including testifying against his co-defendants in June.