Ronnie Gilley, a gambling developer known for the former Country Crossing bingo development outside Dothan, Ala., was sentenced to six years and eight months in federal prison on Monday. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson also sentenced Gilley’s chief lobbyist Jarrod Massey and former Alabama state Rep. Terry Spicer (D-Elba)—Massey received a sentence of five years and five months while Spicer got four years and nine months.
Judge Thompson handed Gilley and Massey sentences that were substantially shorter than what prosecutors requested.
Gilley and Massey both pleaded guilty to bribing state legislators to support pro-gambling legislation in the Alabama Legislature in 2010. They both cooperated with federal prosecutors and testified in court (Gilley testified in two trials, Massey in one) against Victoryland owner Milton McGregor and eight other co-defendants accused of conspiring to corruptly pass the same legislation, but none of the defendants were ever convicted.
Massey also admitted to paying Spicer thousands of dollars a month for years so that Spicer would direct lobbying business to Massey’s firm. Spicer pleaded guilty to charges relating to that scheme.
Massey and Spicer did not speak to the press following the sentencing, but Gilley did express remorse in a brief statement.
“I apologize again to the citizens of this state,” Gilley said. “I apologize to my family, to my loved ones, and to the people that have believed in me for so long.”
Gilley then expressed support for the people that work for his current real estate development project, known as BamaJam Farms, and said the sentencing will offer him a new beginning.
“You know what, I’m not the person I was a year ago, and I’m thankful for that. As hard as it is to say, this is probably the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
Asked if he thought the defendants he testified against should have been convicted rather than acquitted, Gilley said “everybody’s been through enough.”
“I think it’s to move past this issue, and let’s get the state back on the right track again,” Gilley said.
Sentencing guidelines called for Gilley to get a sentence of 21-27 years in prison, and for Massey to get 14-17.5 years. However, prosecutors asked Thompson for reduced sentences due to Gilley and Massey’s cooperation in the corruption trials. The government suggested that Gilley get 10 years, 11 months — a “downward departure” from sentencing guidelines of 50 percent — and that Massey receive an 11 year, two month sentence, a 20 percent downward departure from sentencing guidelines.
The government asked that Spicer receive a five year sentence, while his attorney asked for 2-2.5 years, according to the Birmingham News.
Spicer, Gilley and Massey must turn themselves in to begin their sentences by 2 p.m. on August 27.
In their sentencing memo, prosecutors credited Massey, who served as Gilley’s lobbyist, with getting Spicer and Gilley to plea. “Gilley’s decision to plead guilty undoubtedly was affected by the knowledge that much of Massey’s testimony at trial would directly implicate Gilley,” U.S. Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer wrote in the Massey memo.
But Breuer also cited a number of issues with Massey’s testimony and cooperation: prosecutors say Massey violated demands that he not read about the trial or interact with the media and, while on the witness stand in the first “bingo” trial, “displayed contempt and disrespect for defense counsel” in the case. Massey was not called to testify in the second trial.
Gilley, too, was said to be combative with defense attorneys, but, unlike in Massey’s case, the government chose not to cite examples in the sentencing memo. He was, however, cited for making a “long, self-serving statement” when he switched his plea from not guilty to guilty. But he was given credit for driving an hour each way to prep for trial with prosecutors, for testifying in both trials, and for his honesty and forthrightness in the early stages of his cooperation.