Sunday, October 10, 2010

Corruption Shows Its Face In Alabama Vote Fraud

Montgomery – Arrests for vote-peddling fraud crossed party lines last week when federal prosecutors indicted 4 state senators, a legislative analyst, two casino owners and three lobbyists.

State troopers raided Victoryland and Country Crossing, two south Alabama casino operations that specialized in electronic bingo machines, earlier this year. They closed the multi-million dollar operations down.

Critics blamed Republican Governor Bob Riley for grandstanding election year politics designed to make inroads to taking over the state legislature for the GOP.

When the matter of legalizing electronic gaming machines came up in the state Senate, casino owners Milton McGregor and Ronald Gilley deployed lobbyists in the halls of the legislature to influence the votes of the legislators.

That's when FBI agents captured conversations on tape that allegedly show evidence of vote buying – for as much as $100,000 – influence peddling in return for campaign contributions of $2 million, and the promise of country stars to appear at events in support of senators seeking re-election.

The measure died in the House of Representatives after passing the Senate.

Prosecutors say they're so sure of their cases that they are looking for guilty pleas soon.

Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer told the press, “We allege that from Februrary 2009 through August 2010, two owners of gaming and entertainment establishments and one of their employees; three registered lobbyists working on their behalf; four Alabama state senators; and one state-employed legislative analyst all participated in a wide-ranging conspiracy to buy and sell votes on legislation in Alabama that would directly benefit the business interests of two of the defendants, Milton McGregor and Ronald Gilley.

“Put simply, they are charged with having offered huge sums of moneyu and other benefits in exchange for the legislators' votes.”

The charges include 39 counts of conspiracy, federal program bribery, extortion, money laundering, honest services mail and wire fraud, obstruction of justice and making a false statement.

FBI agents arrested State Senators Larry Means, James Preuitt, Quinton Ross and Harri Anne Smith. Means and Ross are Democrats; Preuitt is listed as a Repubican, and Smith is an independent.

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