Will Gov. Riley testify?

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Attorneys for Former Governor Bob Riley argued in federal court Thursday that he should have no obligation to honor a subpoena served to him by a defendant in the federal corruption trial.

Victoryland owner Milton McGregor served Riley with a subpoena for a second time in recent months. A federal judge ruled in June that Riley would only have to testify during a trial if defense attorneys proved during the proceedings that Riley had information that no one else knew.

Matt Lembke, Riley's attorney, argued in front of Magistrate Judge Wallace Capel Thursday in Montgomery.

"What you don't hear anyone say is that he has one bit of information about the effort to bribe public officials in the Alabama legislature that's already resulted in four guilty pleas" Lembke said. "He doesn't know anything about that."

Joe Espy, the lead attorney for McGregor, made the point that if Gov. Riley didn't have anything to hide regarding his involvement in the State House investigation, then he wouldn't be fighting the subpoena.

"What harm is there in standing up, raising your hand and telling the truth?" Espy asked.

An attorney from the Alabama Attorney General's office, Andrew Arrington, also argued on behalf of the former governor. He said there was no existing legal precedent that bound a former high ranking public official to testify at trial.

Judge Capel countered arguments from both Arrington and Lembke telling them that they were asking him to make a ruling based on the assumption the defense would ask particular questions of Riley as a witness.

Lembke later argued that there is no case law that mandates a former governor testify during a trial.

Espy, representing McGregor, raised allegations against Riley that he took part in illegal vote buying activity. He said Riley started a Political Action Committee, or PAC, aimed at raising money and then secretly donating to lawmakers' campaigns who voted against pro-gambling legislation.

"The actual address used was the governor's mansion" Espy told reporters after the hearing. "I've never seen that done before and if you go to the PAC you'll see that money was distributed to a PAC that then doesn't report the money."

Attorneys for McGregor also subpoenaed former Alabama Director of Public Safety Chris Murphy to testify. Espy said he had in his possession a letter from Murphy that he would agree to testify at trial and wouldn't fight to quash his subpoena. Arrington, the attorney for the state, also argued to quash Murphy's subpoena. Murphy did not have a private attorney present at the hearing.

Espy said of Riley fighting the subpoena, "Why won't he come forth? Why is he the only one that's doing this? I mean it makes no common or political sense it really doesn't."

Lembke described Espy's efforts to get Riley to testify as a "sideshow designed for the media."

Judge Capel didn't say when he would rule on the motion to quash the former governor's subpoena.

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