Wiretap revelations during bingo corruption case

Posted by Samuel King - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Tuesday marked day two of a hearing at the Federal Courthouse in the State House corruption case to determine whether thousands of FBI wiretaps can be used as evidence in the trial.

The content of those wiretaps are supposed to be sealed, but the names of those involved are not. Interesting details have been coming out about how the investigation evolved.

The lead FBI Special Agent in the case, Keith Baker, testified federal agents began investigating connections between VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor and former Attorney General Troy King as early as 2004. That investigation started back up in 2009.  King has not been indicted or charged with any wrongdoing in the case.

The courtroom was cleared of media and the public twice during Tuesday's proceedings, as to keep unreleased details in the case secret.

Central to the case are thousands of hours of wiretaps.  Baker testified that the wiretaps began in March of last year and lasted for 37 days.   Of the 12,000 calls monitored, just more than 3,300 of those calls are considered pertinent to the case.  Agents have testified that calls that were not pertinent to the case, were not supposed to be recorded or constantly monitored.

The defense claims the agents were monitoring calls they were not supposed to, and thus all of tapes should not be admitted into evidence.  As an example, an attorney for Milton McGregor, Ben Espy, cited a call between McGregor's wife and their teenaged granddaughter.  Baker testified that the call was considered pertinent, because the teenager was using her mother, Kimberly's line.  Baker revealed Kimberly McGregor was one of the people whose calls agents were monitoring.

Another call cited by the defense was one in which Milton McGregor told someone he was heading to the airport.  Baker testified that was pertinent to the case, because agents wanted to know where McGregor was at all times during the investigation.  He said agents used wiretaps as a way to locate McGregor.

Julian Butler, an attorney for Country Crossing owner Ronnie Gilley asked Baker about calls between Gilley and other attorneys that may have been listened to by agents.  Some of those calls were later marked "privileged," and thus were not supposed to be used as part of the case.  Baker said he could not remember if he notified other agents and attorneys that they had listened to calls that were privileged.

The hearing is expected to wrap up on Wednesday.   More agents are expected to testify about their role in the wiretapping.

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