The retrial of the remaining defendants in the Alabama bingo corruption case was suspended for one week on Monday by the judge presiding over the case. The decision followed the sudden death of a defendant in the case, Joseph “Ray” Crosby. Jury selection for the retrial was scheduled to begin on Monday.
No cause of death has been released for Crosby, who was found dead Sunday afternoon at his Montgomery home by a friend, former state Sen. Danny Corbett. The Montgomery Advertiser reported Monday that Crosby’s daughter got in touch with Corbett when she could not reach her father. She asked Corbett to check on Crosby at his home. Corbett found Crosby lying on his bed with a book at his side. His death is under investigation by the Montgomery police department.
Crosby worked as legislative analyst for the Alabama’s Legislative Reference Service for more than 30 years. As a team leader at LRS, he was tasked with leading efforts to draft legislation. Legislative analysts also interacted with legislators or their proxies (lobbyists or industry experts designated by legislators) on the laws they were drafting. Crosby retired from the LRS following the indictment in this case.
Federal prosecutors accused Crosby of making changes to gambling legislation favorable to Victoryland owner and gambling developer Milton McGregor — one of Crosby’s former co-defendants — in exchange for bribes.
During the 2010 legislative session McGregor was a designated proxy on the pro-gambling legislation at the center of the bingo corruption case, Senate Bill 380, and communicated with Crosby about the bill. McGregor also made a series of $3,000 monthly payments to Crosby over two years, for a total of $72,000. Prosecutors said those payments were a bribe.
Crosby was cleared of much wrongdoing in the first trial. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson threw out Crosby’s conspiracy charge and 11 counts of honest services fraud just before the case went to the jury. The jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the remaining bribery charge.
Attorneys met to discuss how to move forward with the trial Sunday night and on Monday. The news that jury selection in the bingo retrial had been suspended came in the form of a court order from Judge Thompson on Monday morning:
“Based on the representations made on the record by counsel for all parties on January 29, 2012, it is ordered that today’s jury selection is temporarily suspended,” Thompson wrote.
Later on Monday, Thompson ordered that jury selection for the trial be delayed until Monday, Feb. 6. “Due to the death of defendant Joseph R. Crosby, the court finds that ‘the ends of justice served by [granting a continuance until February 6, 2012,] outweigh the best interest of the public and the defendant[s] in a speedy trial,’” Thompson wrote.
Including McGregor, there are six co-defendants remaining in the case. The other co-defendants are Sen. Harri Anne Smith (I-Slocomb), former state Sens. Larry Means (R-Attalla) and Jim Preuitt (R-Talladega), Montgomery lobbyist Tom Coker and former Country Crossing spokesperson Jay Walker. Two defendants, Montgomery lobbyist Bob Geddie and state Sen. Quinton Ross (D-Montgomery), were acquitted in the first trial, which began last June and ended in early August.