Country Crossing Exec Acquitted

Jay Walker, former spokesman for the defunct Country Crossing casino in Dothan, Ala., has been acquitted of bribery.

Walker was one of six people to be acquitted on all counts in a high-profile federal case. The jury reached its verdict March 7 after seven days of deliberation.

The federal investigation of vote buying began with three Republican legislators telling the FBI they were offered campaign contributions if they would support legislation designed to let electronic bingo games into Alabama. Federal prosecutors said behind the scenes, two casino operators and their lobbyists were offering millions in campaign contributions, benefit concerts by country music artists, free polling and other incentives to vote.

Also acquitted were State Sen. Harri Anne Smith, VictoryLand casino owner Milton McGregor and former Sens. Larry Means and Jim Preuitt.

Country Crossing casino developer Ronnie Gilley and two of his lobbyists pleaded guilty to conspiracy and helped the prosecution. They are scheduled for sentencing in April. Prosecutors said Gilley provided Sen. Smith with $200,000 in campaign money, plus a fundraising concert by John Anderson and Lorrie Morgan. They accused Gilley and McGregor of promising Means $100,000 for his vote and promising Preuitt $2 million, plus a fundraising concert by country music artists.

Defense attorneys argued the case was based on lies told by the guilty in hopes of getting lighter punishment.
Country Crossing was to be a country music-themed Mecca for gamblers but the dream never fully materialized.