Gilley takes stand in corruption trial

County Crossing casino developer Ronnie Gilley says state Sen. Harri Anne Smith and VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor initially opposed his plan for an entertainment development based on electronic bingo in Dothan but they later change their views.

Gilley testified for a little more than an hour Thursday in Alabama's gambling corruption trial. He will return to the witness stand Friday.

Gilley said Smith dropped her opposition to his Country Crossing development in early 2008 and he took a $5,000 contribution to her fundraiser for Congress a few weeks later. He said she returned the contribution.

Gilley has pleaded guilty to offering bribes to legislators to support pro-gambling legislation. He is expected to spend several days testifying against Smith, McGregor and the other nine other defendants in the gambling corruption trial.

Gilley testified about how he looked at Lowndes, Russell and Houston counties as possible locations for an entertainment-based development with electronic bingo machines before deciding on Houston County.

Gilley was originally among the 11 people indicted on charges of buying and selling votes on pro-gambling legislation. He pleaded guilty in April to offering millions in bribes to legislators to try to pass legislation designed to protect his Country Crossing casino in Dothan from police raids.

Gilley appeared in court without the shaved head that was once his trademark. He sported closely cropped hair instead.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)