A casino developer who admitted offering millions in bribes to legislators is going to get to spend six months with his family before he reports to federal prison to serve a sentence that could exceed 20 years.
U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruled Monday afternoon that Country Crossing developer Ronnie Gilley could be released from jail pending his sentencing Nov. 15.
The judge left it up to a federal magistrate to work out the details. But he said the release will be under conditions that Gilley's attorneys agreed to during a court hearing Monday morning, including home detention and electronic monitoring. Gilley's attorney, David Harrison, said the release could occur Tuesday morning.
During the hearing, Gilley told a federal judge that he hadn't spent enough time with wife and four sons while developing the now-closed gambling destination in Dothan, and he would like to get out of jail to be with them at their home in Enterprise until his sentencing Nov. 15.
"I certainly want to make things right with them," he said.
Federal prosecutor Louis Franklin said a release from jail was not part of the prosecution's plea agreement with Gilley, but prosecutors had no objections to him being released.
Gilley was one of a dozen people charged in October with buying and selling votes on pro-gambling legislation. On Friday, he became the third person to plead guilty when he admitted to 11 counts of bribery, money laundering and conspiracy.
In the plea agreement, he acknowledged offering millions in bribes to legislators to support pro-gambling legislation that would allow his electronic bingo casino to operate. His plea agreement provides for a sentencing range of 21 years and 10 months to 27 years and three months, but the sentence could be less if he cooperates fully, including testifying against his co-defendants when they go on trial June 6.
Gilley had been in the Montgomery City Jail without bond since February because federal prosecutors accused him of offering money to his former lobbyist, Jarrod Massey, to try to keep him from pleading guilty. Gilley was never charged with obstruction of justice and his plea agreement indicates that he won't be.
Gilley, 46, wore an orange jail uniform and handcuffs as he stood before the judge Monday and explained that he got caught up in corruption in state government.
"In my opinion it's a cesspool - a very contagious cesspool of corruption," he said.
Gilley said he understands what he did wrong and wants to set the record straight.
"I'm going to tell the truth. I've been living a lie for far too long," he said.
Even though Gilley has admitted being corrupt, he told the judge he will follow every rule if freed until November.
"Your honor, you can trust me," he said.
Before being led out by federal agents, Gilley turned to his wife on the front row of the courtroom and said, "Deidra, I love you."
The federal judge also heard arguments Monday from attorneys for two of Gilley's co-defendants, VictoryLand casino owner Milton McGregor and his lobbyist, Tom Coker. They said McGregor was improperly lumped in with Gilley in two bribery counts in the indictment and Coker was lumped in for one count. They would like the counts tossed out.
The judge said he will rule later, but he said, "I don't think the count is going to go out."
Both defendants have several other counts pending against them, and they would still go on trial June 6.