UPDATE: Eleven Arraigned in Federal Court in Bingo Probe

By: Denise Bradberry Email
By: Denise Bradberry Email

UPDATE

11 people including Alabama senators, electronic bingo facility owners and lobbyists are standing before a judge today to enter their pleas.

It took less than 20 minutes for all 11 defendents to walk up to the podium and plead not guilty. Victoryland's Milton McGregor even spoke for himself saying "absolutely not guilty."

They each also waived their right to a speedy trial because there is simply so much preparation needed.

The trial date has been set for April 4th and some believe it could take around 6 months for the proceedings to conclude.

Senator Harri Anne Smith says these indictments haven't slowed her campaign down and both her and Country Crossing's Ronnie Gilley had crowds of support waiting for them outside.

Senator Smith said, "I just said I was not guilty...I would have loved to have said absolutely not guilty but I wasn't sure if that was appropriate or not."

Ronnie Gilley said, "Obviously no one wants to have this amount of pressure upon them with these indictments on top of all of us but I'm humbled and I'm proud to be an Alabamian I will continue to fight for our project."

Attorneys were also able to pick up the majority of the prosecution's evidence today.

Senator Harri Anne Smith's Attorney Jim Parkman says there's between 30 and 50 hours of recorded tape in there...so now it's time to begin the long process of building a defense.

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Eleven defendents appeared a the federal courthouse in Montgomery today....indicted on corruption charges surrounding votes on gambling legislation.

In the group are two owners of electronic bingo facilities, an employee, four state senators and four lobbyists.

The arraignment started about 10:30 this morning in front of the federal judge.

The courtroom was full of people and those who have been indicted shook hands with supporters as they came into the courtroom.

Each of the eleven defendents approached the podium with their attorneys to enter not guilty pleas.

Milton McGregon, the owner of Victoryland said "Absolutely not guilty" when asked how he pleaded to the charges.

Each of the accused waived their right to a speedy trial because of the amount of preparation needed for the trial which is scheduled for April 4th, 2011.

The eleven defendents are represented by a total of 39 different attorneys... some of them are the most prominent lawyers in the state.

Senator Harri Anne Smith has retained Jim Parkman who represented Richard Scrushy when he was acquitted... so he has experience with wiretaps.

Parkman talked to reporters on his way into court this morning:
"I'm kinda looking at the wire taps again as being something we can use that will help prove the innocence of the senator in this particular case so I'm kinda looking at it from another side that i want to hear all the wiretaps, not just you know, little snipits>"

Supporters of Ronnie Gilley crowded onto the courthouse lawn with signs supporting the Country Crossing developer.

News 4 will have complete details from Montgomery tonight on News 4 at 5, 6, and 10pm.


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