Former Alabama State Lobbyist Pleads Guilty in Wide-Ranging Conspiracy to Influence and Corrupt Votes Related to Electronic Bingo Legislation
WASHINGTON – A former Alabama state lobbyist pleaded guilty today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Wallace Capel Jr. to his role in conspiring to bribe legislators in exchange for their favorable votes on pro-gambling legislation, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge Timothy J. Fuhrman of the FBI’s Mobile Field Office.
Jarrod D. Massey, 39, of Montgomery, Ala., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery and five counts of federal program bribery. Massey and his 10 co-defendants were charged in a 39-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on Oct. 1, 2010, with a variety of criminal offenses for their alleged roles in the bribery scheme. The remaining 10 defendants include two current Alabama state legislators, two former Alabama state legislators, two lobbyists, two business owners and one of their employees, and an employee of the Alabama legislature.
“Jarrod Massey has admitted that he bribed members of the Alabama state legislature in exchange for their votes in favor of electronic bingo gambling legislation,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “In a democracy, votes should be cast on the merits and in the best interests of constituents, and not influenced by bribes and the possibility of personal gain. Mr. Massey has admitted his wrongdoing, and will now face the consequences of his corrupt conduct.”
“Today’s plea by Mr. Massey is another step in the investigation and prosecution of this significant public corruption matter,” said Special Agent in Charge Timothy J. Fuhrman of the FBI’s Mobile Field Office. “The FBI remains committed to continuing this investigation wherever the facts may lead and will devote all necessary investigative techniques, resources and efforts to its final resolution.”
According to information contained in court documents and presented during the plea hearing, Massey was employed from April 2006 until May 2010 as a registered lobbyist and consultant with Mantra Governmental, a lobbying firm he owned in Montgomery. Massey’s largest client was Ronald E. Gilley, who owned a controlling interest in Country Crossing, an entertainment and gambling development in Houston County, Ala., which also sought to offer electronic bingo gambling machines to the public. Milton E. McGregor owned a controlling interest in Macon County Greyhound Park Inc., also known as Victoryland, in Macon County, Ala., and Jefferson Country Racing Association in Jefferson County, Ala. He also had an ownership interest in other entertainment and gambling facilities in Alabama, including Country Crossing, which offered or sought to offer electronic bingo gambling machines to the public.
According to court documents, during the 2009 and 2010 Alabama state legislative sessions, McGregor and Gilley, along with others, allegedly promoted the passage of pro-gambling legislation that would have been favorable to the business interest of individuals operating electronic bingo facilities in Alabama, including themselves.
Massey admitted, among other things, that he offered former State Senator James E. Preuitt $1 million and that he authorized former employee and lobbyist Jennifer Pouncy to offer Preuitt substantial assistance in his reelection campaign, including telling Pouncy that they had up to $2 million of Gilley’s money to use in obtaining Preuitt’s vote on the pro-gambling legislation. Pouncy pleaded guilty on Sept. 28, 2010, for her role in the bribery scheme, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 11, 2011. In her guilty plea, Pouncy admitted to offering $2 million to Preuitt in exchange for his favorable vote on the pro-gambling legislation. Massey also admitted that he and others discussed purchasing a large number of vehicles from Preuitt’s auto dealership in exchange for Preuitt’s vote.
Massey also admitted that he conspired with others to bribe a member of the Alabama House of Representatives during the 2009 legislative session, promising hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign support in exchange for the legislator’s favorable vote on pro-gambling legislation. Similarly, Massey admitted that in 2010, he and his co-conspirators sought to bribe a member of the Alabama Senate, offering the legislator $1 million per year, to use at the legislator’s discretion. Massey admitted that the illegal monies were to be disguised as payment for work on a public relations job.
During his plea, Massey also admitted he was involved with bribe payments to former State Senator Larry P. Means, who abstained from an earlier vote on the pro-gambling legislation in 2010, but after allegedly soliciting bribes, voted in favor of the legislation. In addition, Massey admitted that he gave $5,000 to State Senator Quinton T. Ross Jr. for his vote in favor of the pro-gambling legislation, and that Ross solicited an additional $25,000 from Massey for his reelection campaign in the weeks leading up to the vote. Ross ran unopposed in the election. Finally, Massey admitted that he gave State Senator Harri Anne Smith more than $13,000 between December 2009 and March 2010, in return for her vote in favor of the pro-gambling legislation.
At sentencing, scheduled for Sept. 26, 2011, Massey faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy charge. Each count of federal program bribery carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Deputy Chief Peter J. Ainsworth and Trial Attorneys Eric G. Olshan, Barak Cohen and E. Rae Woods of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section; Senior Litigation Counsel Brenda K. Morris of the Criminal Division; and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Louis V. Franklin and Steve P. Feaga of the Middle District of Alabama. The case is being supervised by the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section, and is being investigated by the FBI’s Mobile Field Office.