Jurors have found VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor and five other defendants not guilty of all charges in the retrial of a government corruption case.
Jurors announced that they had reached a decision early this morning on their seventh day of deliberations.
McGregor; lobbyist Tom Coker; former Country Crossing casino spokesman Jay Walker; Sen. Harri Anne Smith, I-Slocomb; and former state Sens. Larry Means, D-Attalla, and Jim Preuitt, R-Talladega, are on trial accused of offering or accepting bribes in connection with a 2010 gambling bill.
The legislation was aimed at sheltering bingo casinos from state efforts to shut them down by authorizing a statewide vote on gambling.
Throughout the trial prosecutors attempted to paint the six defendants as greedy criminals that resorted to bribery because of their lust for money and power. But defense lawyer Joe Espy and others countered there was a total failure of proof in the case and that the prosecution was built on the testimony of "crooks" with plea deals and people with political motivations.
The case first went to trial last summer. Jurors deliberated for seven days before returning multiple not guilty verdicts but saying they were hopelessly deadlocked on other charges.
Prosecutors presented a pared down case this time. Prosecutors put on just two weeks of evidence compared to seven weeks in the first trial.
McGregor's charges he was found not guilty of this morning included three counts of federal programs bribery and one county of conspiracy.
The case was the latest in a series of government corruption investigations in Alabama, including the conviction of former Gov. Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy on bribery charges in 2006 and a probe of Alabama's two-year college system that brought down three legislators and the system's former chancellor in 2008.
The main pattern to look for is the accused and convicted bearing either the "D" at the end of their names or being known for having liberal stances. Yep, folks, these convictions were, for the most part, politically motivated. Not only did bottling up the forces most positive towards the legalization of electronic bingo secure the financial futures of both the Mississippi casino gambling interests and Alabama's own Poarch Creek Indian gambling interests, but it also secured the political futures of countless Republicans, as well as paving the way for current governor Robert Bentley.
In the end, Alabamians fell for the long con: the big guys get all of the money and the people they want in office and the average Alabamian is too busy declaring a moral victory over gambling or lamenting McGregor's acquittal to notice. Alabama is always thankful for receiving the long end of the stick in the wrong places.
Legal Schnauzer is a bit displeased that the Obama administration didn't nip this in the bud from the get-go, allowing Bush-era appointees within the Justice Department to run wild with political corruption cases designed to tar and feather Democrats and just about anyone not affiliated with the Grand Old Party or Alabama's special circle of good ol' boys and cronies:
If any of this shines unflattering light on the Obama administration, so be it. The president has either adopted many of George W. Bush's wrong-headed notions on justice--or turned a blind eye on his predecessor's corrupt activities--so now it's time for Eric Holder and company to "enjoy" some scrutiny under a white hot light. If it costs Obama the 2012 election . . . well, tough beans. The president has repeatedly proven that he is not deserving of progressives' support anyway.
The Alabama bingo investigation/trial was a disgrace from the outset, and the public deserves answers on why millions of its dollars were wasted on a sideshow designed to help Alabama Republicans. Obama has had almost four years to do the right thing on the justice front--to return us to a nation governed by the rule of law--and he has failed at every turn. He and his "justice department" deserve to be exposed.
Apologies to Legal Schnauzer, but I have to call a time-out. I'm not about to dump a truckload of blame on the president or Holder for this entire fiasco, but I will place blame where it's due.
If anything, President Obama can be blamed for not taking time out to clean house of the Shrub's old appointees littering the Justice Dept. and federal court system. Holder may have stood by and did nothing, but it was hangers-on like Leura Canary who made it possible for a clear-cut case of political prosecution to go on largely unchecked.
However, the last thing the president should do is attempt to knock heads over this issue before November. Turning over stones this early could easily give the GOP permission to paint themselves as "victims" of a "vendetta-driven housecleaning to insure Obama's reelection," something that'll give them renewed vigor and a way to scuttle the president's reelection chances.
BTW, as of yesterday, Alabama Republicans released their collective load of Santorum all over the state, leaving Mormon robot Mitt Romney a bit miffed as his attempts to assimilate his program into the standard Southeastern U.S. lifestyle and reconcile their belief subroutines with his own resulted in a suitable lack of response from the "Southern" flesh forms.