If you can say one thing about former gambling developer and current convict Ronnie Gilley, you probably wouldn’t want to say it in church. But you might also say that he’s got… err.. well, guts the size of grapefruits. After a handful of failures in the world of real estate development just in the past half-decade, Gilley — the star government witness in the two Alabama bingo corruption trials that convicted no one — has another development for you to invest in. Yeah. Even while he awaits sentencing, in July, for pleading guilty to bribery, conspiracy, money laundering and aiding and abetting.
Exactly the kind of guy you want to invest your money with, right?
First, in 2007, there was Little Nashville, a residential retirement community project planned for Coffee County, near Enterprise, Ala. It was meant to mimic Branson, Missouri’s family atmosphere. Country music stars would promote the project. But then the real estate market failed, and Gilley’s lenders and investors disappeared.
So then Gilley moved the project to nearby Houston County, near Dothan, Ala., and reimagined it as Country Crossing: a country-music themed entertainment venue replete with a residential community, country-themed restaurants, a theme park, an amphitheater, fairgrounds, an opera house, a dinner theatre and an RV park. But, without the irrational exuberance of the mid-2000s real estate development market, Gilley needed a way to raise money for the rest of the project. That’s where the electronic bingo casino came in—it would help fund all the other amenities.
Perhaps it would have worked, had the bingo pavilion stayed open. In January 2010, within three months of opening, Country Crossing closed under threats of raids from then-Gov. Bob Riley’s gambling task force, and Gilley was arrested several months later for attempting to bribe legislators to pass pro-gambling legislation.
In March of 2010 — even while Country Crossing was closed — Gilley was pitching a
new idea the same idea in a different place. Gilley hoped to round up investors for a Country Crossing-like development in Mississippi with real casinos instead of electronic bingo. Gilley said on the stand during the bingo trial that it would be “Country Crossing Alabama times 25.” That never happened.
Now, just over a month from a sentencing hearing in which he faces decades in prison, Gilley has a new project for you to invest your money in. It’s tagline is “Where God and County Coincide,” it’s called BamaJam Farms, and it’s better than ever.
Lance Griffin of the Dothan Eagle reports on the 1,600 acre development:
“There will be a massive water park, a lake for fishing, two natural amphitheaters, a commercial/retail district, equestrian areas, ATV and biking trails, camping sites, a competition mud bog stadium and 300 to 500 homes targeted to retirees, all with a theme of country combined with nature.”
Yeah. Completely plausible!
I guess this time around, Gilley will find out who his friends are. (Yeah, the guy kicking his truck in this Tracy Lawrence video is Ronnie Gilley).