FBI Agent George Glaser took the witness stand again Thursday morning and continued testifying about a brief interview in 2010 with then-Sen. Jim Preuitt. Glaser left the witness stand in the bingo corruption case on Tuesday due to a legal issue with his testimony.
Glaser, who works out of the Mobile FBI office, testified Tuesday that he interviewed Preuitt (R-Talladega) as part of an effort to interview a large number of people connected with the case just before the investigation became public on April 1, 2010, two days after the bingo legislation, SB380, passed in the Alabama Senate.
Preuitt voted for that legislation, and is charged with taking bribes for $2 million, among other offers, in exchange for his vote.
Representatives from the Department of Justice made the investigation overt in a meeting with leaders in the legislature. The meeting, Glaser said, was “to let them know that we had grave concerns […] about the ethical practices concerning this legislation.”
“We could not knowingly allow tainted legislation to progress,” Glaser said Tuesday.
Glaser testified he met with Preuitt after the bingo vote at the restaurant in the Montgomery Embassy Suites hotel. Joe Herman, an agent from the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, set up the meeting, and attended it as well.
After a brief questioning on Tuesday, objections raised by defense attorneys regarding the scope of Glaser’s testimony caused him to temporarily step down from the witness stand.
Glaser returned to the witness stand on Thursday morning, but only after U.S. District Court Judge Myron Thompson instructed the jury to consider Glaser’s testimony only in relation to the charge that Preuitt made false statements to federal investigators, and not in relation to other charges or the other eight defendants.
On Thursday, Glaser described his conversation with Preuitt as “just a friendly conversation you have with a gentleman in a restaurant.” Of course, they weren’t just discussing the weather—Glaser was asking Preuitt if he had knowledge of any bribes related to the bingo legislation.
According to Glaser’s testimony, Preuitt said he had met Country Crossing lobbyist and government witness Jennifer Pouncy, who pleaded guilty to federal programs bribery. Preuitt told Glaser he met Pouncy, but she did not make him any offers and he hadn’t accepted any.
“I believe his words were that he couldn’t tolerate that kind of behavior in the Senate,” Glaser said.
Glaser testified that Preuitt said he had talked briefly Country Crossing developer Ronnie Gilley on the phone, and Gilley thanked Preuitt for his ‘yes’ vote on SB380.
At the end of Agent Glaser’s meeting with Preuitt, Glaser said that he told Preuitt that lying to federal agents is a crime.
During cross examination, Ron Wise, an attorney for Preuitt, hammered on the specific text of an FBI document.
FBI agents summarize interviews of some parties in documents known as 302s. In Glaser’s 302 on his interview with Preuitt, he said that Preuitt told him he’d never “taken” any bribes.
So far there has been no evidence to suggest that Preuitt ever received any cash from any of the offers witnesses have said they made to Preuitt. The government’s witnesses have suggested that this is because the investigation became public within days of the Senate vote, halting the fulfillment of bribes.
Glaser said that the statement in his 302 was a general one, and that he and Preuitt had an understanding that they were discussing bribes.
Jennifer Pouncy was back on the witness stand Thursday afternoon. Her testimony continued Friday.