The Justice Department suffered a major setback last week when a federal jury in Alabama tossed out most of the charges in a massive public corruption case involving casino interests allegedly bribing state senators to support a bill legalizing bingo in the state.
But federal prosecutors indicated Monday that they’ll give it another go on the charges that weren’t unanimously acquitted. A judge has scheduled a new trial for October.
Jurors returned 81 verdicts of not guilty and deadlocked on 33 counts last week. One of the jurors told the Montgomery Independent that eight of the jurors voted to acquit the defendants on the remaining charges and four voted to convict.
Seven defendants — Milton E. McGregor, Thomas E. Coker, Larry P. Means, James E. Preuitt, Harri Anne H. Smith, Jarrell W. Walker, Jr. and Joseph R. Crosby — are scheduled to be retried on Oct. 3. Two others: Sen. Quinton Ross and casino lobbyist Bob Geddie, were cleared completely. A federal judge tentatively scheduled the new trial on the remaining charges following a conference call with lawyers involved in the case on Monday.
Former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones, who briefly represented a casino owner who pleaded guilty, told the Associated Press that the case was a “disaster” for the Justice Department, which had touted their case as a “full-scale” bribery scheme that was “astonishing in scope.”
“The government hoisted its flag and walked away with nothing,” he said.
One of the federal prosecutors involved in the case, Brenda Morris, was also involved in the botched prosecution of the late Sen. Ted Stevens. Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who heads the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, previously defended Morris as one of the “excellent” lawyers on the team.
The full background of the bingo bribery case here.