Wiretap hearing wraps up in bingo corruption case

Posted by Samuel King - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - It's up to a federal judge now, to decide whether to allow telephone call recordings as evidence in the upcoming state house corruption trial.  Defendants including VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor, Country Crossing owner Ronnie Gilley and others want the wiretaps thrown out.

Lawyers filed out of the federal courthouse in Montgomery, carrying boxes filled with the transcripts of more than 12,000 wiretapped phone calls and the logs of who listened to those calls.  As they met to discuss what's next, they seem confident they had successfully pleaded their case to the judge.

"We believe there were clearly violations, constitutional violations involved in this wiretap," said Doug Jones, an attorney for Gilley.

Attorneys argued the government violated its own procedures when monitoring the wiretaps.

"There's calls that should be relevant and there's calls that should be not relevant," said Joe Espy, an attorney for Milton McGregor.  "Talking to your granddaughter, talking to your business partner, talking to your lawyer, those are not within the rules, you shouldn't listening to those."

FBI agents testified that some of the seemingly innocent sounding calls were on lines that were being monitored - including those of Milton McGregor's daughter.

Other calls were once marked pertinent - or key to the investigation - but later marked privileged.   The defense argues since some of the inadmissible calls were listened to, they all should be thrown out.

"It is a constitution violation that cannot be remedied," Jones said.  "You cannot take and segregate privileged calls you cannot place into evidence anyway."

Attorneys for Ronnie Gilley were also concerned about Alabama Bureau of Investigation agents who may have listened to those inadmissible calls.

"If they listened to those calls, as has been noticed it's a violation regardless of their motives, and certainly we believe it raises some serious red flags about what was going on between the state and federal government," Jones said.

The ABI was a part of the investigation team.  Jones said if the wiretaps are thrown out, it could be a significant blow to the prosecution's case, but not a fatal blow.  There is tons of other evidence in the case - including audio and video surveillance.

The judge has given both sides until Monday to submit additional arguments and evidence.  A ruling should come sometime after that.

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