October 4, 2010 / 4:38 PM / 8 years ago

FBI arrests 11 in Alabama in gambling probe

* Probe centers on allegations of vote-buying

* Four lawmakers, two casino owners charged in case

BIRMINGHAM, Oct 4 (Reuters) - The FBI charged four Alabama legislators and two prominent Alabama businessman on Monday as part of a probe into public corruption and state gambling, the Department of Justice said.

A total of 11 people, including three lobbyists, were charged with taking part in a conspiracy to bribe lawmakers for their votes and influence on proposed legislation, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said in a statement.

The criminal charges, which stem from the 2009 and 2010 state legislative sessions, include conspiracy, bribery, extortion, money laundering, mail and wire fraud, obstruction of justice and making false statements, the statement said.

Gambling is severely limited under Alabama state law and some in the state have long sought to loosen those restrictions, arguing it would bring much-needed tax revenue and economic development.

Both of the arrested businessmen owned casinos. Milton McGregor owned Macon County Greyhound Park Inc, also known as Victoryland, and Jefferson Country Racing Association in Jefferson County.

Ronald Gilley owned Country Crossing real estate, entertainment and gambling development in Houston County.

“McGregor and Gilley, along with others, allegedly promoted the passage of pro-gambling legislation that would have been favorable to the business interest of individuals operating electronic bingo facilities, including themselves,” it said.

“McGregor, Gilley and their co-defendants allegedly conspired to commit federal program bribery by corruptly giving ... money and other things of value to Alabama state legislators ... to influence and reward them in connection with pro-gambling legislation,” it said.

The four state senators, Democrats Larry Means and Quinton Ross, Republican James Pruiett and independent Harri Anne Smith, are charged with “accepting or agreeing to accept and in some cases demanding these bribes,” Breuer said. (Reporting by Verna Gates, writing by Matthew Bigg, editing by Todd Eastham)

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