Government witness Jarrod Massey broke down on the witness stand while trying to explain why he agreed to go to jail before being sentenced. At the insistence of Bobby Segall, an attorney for defendant of Milton McGregor, Massey was excused from the stand for a moment to regain his composure.
“I would like to say I’m sorry for inconveniencing the court and the jury,” Massey said after returning.
Massey, who pleaded guilty to bribery, said he is facing up to 55 years in jail. A former lobbyist for gambling developer Ronnie Gilley, Massey pleaded guilty in Dec. 2010, and voluntarily began serving time on Jan. 19, 2011.
Massey began to get emotional when he was asked by Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Rae Woods why he voluntarily began serving time.
“I made a decision based on the severity of the acts that I committed, and the likelihood that I was facing a substantial amount of prison time–” Massey began, but stopped.
Massey’s voice changed, and he barely croaked out the words “And after talking with my wife and children,” before Segall objected.
Segall asked that Massey, who was in tears, compose himself.
U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson asked Massey to compose himself. After he was unable to do so, Massey and the jury were excused for a moment.
Massey’s wife, Sharon Massey, has been in attendance at court during his testimony.
Upon returning to the stand, Massey apologized for breaking up. At Woods’ direction, he again began his explanation, saying that he began serving his sentence early after considering the impact of his potential imprisonment on his business and “based on conversations with my wife and family.”
“I’ve always told my children you’ve got to accept responsibility,” Massey said, choking up again. He has two sons.
Massey said he’s been incarcerated in two facilities since January.
“How do you feel about being in jail,” Woods asked.
“I don’t like it,” Massey said. “I’ve learned I don’t like solitary confinement.”
Massey testified that he understands his sentence, which is scheduled to come down in November, is up to Judge Thompson, but that he hopes to get sentenced to time served.
Massey also testified today that beyond the bribes at issue in this case, he had bribed other public officials, including former state Rep. Terry Spicer (D-Elba).
“I have paid essentially a monthly amount […] to state Representative Terry Spicer,” Massey said.
The $2,000 or $3,000 monthly payments began in 2001 or 2002 and continued through 2009, Massey said.
Massey said in a hearing in February that Spicer helped Massey secure clients for his lobbying firm and assisted Massey in creating an “enterprise zone” in which alcohol could be sold in a Coffee County development. The development was a former project of Massey’s client (and fellow convict and government witness), Ronnie Gilley.
As part of his plea agreement, the government agreed not to pursue prosecution against Massey for his involvement with Spicer.
Spicer is now superintendent of the Elba City Schools System.
Woods finished her direct examination of Massey just before the court’s lunch break. Segall is expected to begin cross examination on behalf of his client, Milton McGregor, after lunch.