The first witness, Montgomery "Monty" Feld, former Assistant Director for the Legislative Reference Service, took the stand first thing Friday morning.
Feld knew deceased (former) defendant Ray Crosby while he worked for the LRS and told the court he considered Crosby a friend.
Feld spelled out the duties of the LRS - it's a state agency that serves the legislature to draft proposed bills and provide legislative advice. The LRS is structured with "team leaders" of which, Ray Crosby was one. Each leader has a team and each team had its own expertise. Crosby's expertise was tax law, civil procedures, state government and gambling.
Legislators came to the LRS and either worked with them directly or authorized someone to work with the bill-writer. The team leader could choose to write the assigned bill alone, or they could assign someone on the team to do it. The LRS often used the same people to draft bills on both sides of the same issue because they knew it so well.
The main piece of legislation in this case, SB 380, if passed, would have put the legalization of electronic bingo to a vote of the citizens of Alabama.
Sen. Roger Bedford sponsored SB 380. The bill was assigned to be written by the LRS expert on gambling - Ray Crosby. Ray Crosby was accused of conspiring with Milton McGregor to alter the bill's contents until Crosby's untimely death in January. Milton McGregor still faces a bribery charge for his alleged role in bribing Crosby with payments of $3,000 a month.
According to Feld, Sen. Bedford authorized Milton McGregor to work with Crosby to draft SB 380. Feld told the court Crosby had written multiple bills on gaming, including one for Sen. Scott Beason not long before SB 380 that was considered an "anti-gaming" bill.
Feld told the court he didn't know that Crosby had a consulting deal with Milton McGregor outside of his work with McGregor on the bill. He said rules of the LRS did allow for members to have other jobs outside of the service, however, as state employees, Crosby was bound to follow the same state ethics law as legislators with regards to personal gain.
Ultimately, there were two versions of SB 380 drafted, a "long version" and a "short version." There were small differences between the two, but they were mostly the same. Crosby drafted both versions of the bill.
The "long bill" came up for a Budget Isolation Resolution vote on March 3, 2010. A BIR vote is a type of test vote to gauge interest on the bill. For the BIR, Sen. Harri Anne Smith voted yes, Sen. Larry Means voted yes and Sen. Jim Preuitt abstained. The second vote was on the "short bill" on March 30, 2010. Means, Smith and Preuitt all voted "yes" on that bill and are accused of striking deals to deliver those votes.
Feld told the court (through questioning by McGregor's attorney, Bobby Segall) that while he didn't know about Crosby's consulting deal with Macon County Greyhound Park (owned by Milton McGregor), he didn't know of Crosby doing any work, or having any conversations with McGregor that weren't required by his job.
Segall used a similar strategy as the last trial by trying to prove that Crosby gave no preferential treatment to McGregor. Feld told Segall that Crosby expedited his work on the bill because of his requirement to do so due to the fact that the bill's sponsor, Sen. Bedford, was a member of the Legislative Council. Segall also had Feld show that Crosby had previously drafted anti-gambling legislation. Furthermore, while Crosby was accused of conspiring with McGregor, Crosby added a caveat to the bill that would have meant a higher tax rate on Victoryland and made it easier to tax gaming facilities (this change was made in moving from the long bill to the short bill).
To explain the $3,000 checks the government presented with McGregor's signature on it from Macon County Greyhound Park to Ray Crosby, Segall pointed to what Feld said LRS employees were allowed to do - which was to hold jobs in addition to the LRS. Crosby was also a lawyer. Segall explained that $3,000 would be a standard salary for the amount of time Crosby might have had free to work with Macon County Greyhound Park as an attorney in addition to his LRS duties. Feld had told prosecutor Marquest Meeks that these payments had "worried him" because of the "appearance of impropriety."
Feld told the court that while he knew Tom Coker, he didn't know of any role Coker played with the bill and that Coker had never asked him to anything immoral or illegal. Bill Clark, attorney for Sen. Means asked the same question and got the same answer. Ron Wise, attorney for Sen. Preuitt pointed out that the bill, even if it had passed, would have required a special session to be put into place. That session couldn't have taken place until after elections in 2011, meaning an entire new legislature would be in place - one that wouldn't include his client because of Preuitt's advanced age and wish not to return to the legislature. Feld told the court that Sen. Smith was not involved in sponsorship of the bill and that her vote "yes" on the BIR was an indication she wanted the bill to move forward. Feld told the court that he did not know Jay Walker at all.
The second witness of the day, lobbyist Jennifer Pouncy, didn't take the stand until shortly after 4:00 p.m. Pouncy told the court that she pleaded guilty to a federal crime - one count of Conspiracy to Commit Bribery - for the actions she took while in the employ of Jarrod Massey. Pouncy told the court she was testifying in hopes of a reduction on her sentence. The most she can face is five years in prison unless she lies on the stand, then she could also face obstruction and perjury charges.
Much of what Pouncy said in her hour on the stand were things we heard during the previous trial. Pouncy was employed as a lobbyist for Jarrod Massey's company, Mantra Governmental. Mantra was hired by Ronnie Gilley to do lobbying for Gilley's company, Ronnie Gilley Properties, and ultimately, Country Crossing.
Pouncy told the court that she conspired with Massey and Gilley, as well as Milton McGregor's lobbyist Tom Coker, to offer bribes to Sen. Jim Preuitt and Sen. Larry Means.
According to Pouncy, she and Massey were hired by Gilley specifically to work to get SB 380 passed through the legislature. She said Gilley and McGregor both had huge incentives to get SB 380 passed considering Governor Bob Riley considered the electronic bingo machines at their facilities as illegal slot machines and attempted to have them raided.
Pouncy told the court that Massey assigned her to work with Sen. Preuitt because of the good relationship she had with him (Pouncy had previously worked with Preuitt at her first lobbying job under Milo Dakin). Pouncy was also assigned to Sen. Means because she had known him for eight years.
Pouncy told the court (and a wiretap tape was later played to confirm) that Massey called Pouncy on March 2, 2010 asking for Preuitt's cell phone number because Massey and Gilley had " a million doillar vehicle need." Preuitt owned a Ford Dealership in Talladega. Pouncy told the court she interpreted the conversation to mean that Gilley and Massey were going to buy trucks from Preuitt in an attempt to gain favor and his vote.
The very next day, March 3, 2010 was when the BIR vote on SB 380 was scheduled to happen. Pouncy told the court that Massey called her, told her to get in touch with Preuitt and tell him that if she didn't get his vote, that Mantra would lose their client and she would be fired. This was to play on Pouncy's good relationship with Preuitt. Pouncy also said that if she was able to secure Preuitt's vote, Massey and Gilley were going to pay her $100,000. She told the court that after Massey told her about the money, she told Means because she wanted advice and "maybe needed a friend to talk to." When Pouncy was finally able to speak to Preuitt that day he told her he was planning on voting "no" on the BIR because he had a personal issue with Milton McGregor.
Testimony ended right after this statement to the court. Court will resume at 9:00 a.m. Monday. Attorneys expect Pouncy's cross examination to take most, if not all of Monday. Depending on how the witness after Pouncy progresses, the court could hear from Ronnie Gilley early next week.