No guilty verdicts in Alabama corruption trial
A criminal trial of Alabama legislators, lobbyists and others accused of participating in a massive gambling and corruption scheme has ended, for now, with a jury declining to convict any of the nine defendants, leaving unclear the next chapter in a federal probe that has engulfed the state's political class for months.
After deliberating for seven days, a jury in Montgomery on Thursday fully acquitted one state senator, Quinton Ross Jr., and a lobbyist, Robert E. "Bob" Geddie Jr., but handed the seven remaining defendants, who faced numerous corruption-related charges, a mix of acquittals and mistrials, the Associated Press reports.
The Justice Department has not made clear whether it would pursue the case further.
At the heart of the matter were Alabama casinos that operated electronic "bingo" machines that looked a lot like slot machines. Bingo is legal in Alabama, but slots are not. Former Republican Gov. Bob Riley cracked down on the casinos, shutting down all of them except those run by the Poarch Creek Indian tribe.
A casino developer and two lobbyists pleaded guilty earlier to conspiracy and testified at the trial, in which prosecutors alleged that state legislators were offered campaign funds to support a pro-gambling bill.
-- Richard Fausset in Atlanta
Photo: Country Crossing casino spokesman Jarrell Walker, right, departs the federal building with his attorney Susan James in Montgomery, Ala., on Monday. Walker and eight other defendants were facing federal conspiracy and bribery charges. Credit: Dave Martin / Associated Press