Jury selection begins in Alabama corruption retrial - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Jury selection begins in corruption trial

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Harri Anne Smith arriving at courthouse Harri Anne Smith arriving at courthouse
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

Attorneys and defendants in the second federal corruption trial arrived at the federal courthouse in Montgomery Monday morning.

"We are ready!" said Joe Espy, lead attorney for Victoryland owner Milton McGregor. McGregor is charged with allegedly paying to buy votes for a proposed constitutional amendment that, if approved by voters, would have legalized electronic bingo in parts of Alabama.

McGregor walked up Court Street with Espy, and Espy's two sons Bill and Ben who are also on McGregor's defense team.

Espy said about jury selection, "The process will take three to five days and that's kind of where we are."

Jury selection was delayed a week after the sudden death of defendant Ray Crosby. An autopsy report concluded that Crosby died of hypertensive cardiovascular disease. The court later dismissed the final bribery charge pending against him.

The first trial began in June 2011 and ended nine weeks later in August with no convictions against any of the then-nine defendants on trial.

Lobbyist Bob Geddie and Montgomery State Senator Quinton Ross were found not guilty on all charges.

33 counts remain against the six defendants. The charges include conspiracy, federal programs bribery, money laundering, and fraud. The remaining defendants who will go to trial are McGregor, current State Senator Harri Anne Smith, former State Senators Larry Means and Jim Preuitt, lobbyist Tom Coker, and former Country Crossing spokesman Jay Walker.

Walker's attorney Susan James on her way into the courthouse Monday morning said, ‘The jury pool looks really good and we're hoping for an open-minded and fair jury and I think we'll get it for sure."

When asked about the difficulty in finding an impartial jury given the publicity of the first trial she said she's optimistic and added, "We'll find out what they know and what they don't know."

Federal prosecutors filed a motion for a protective order barring extrajudicial comments during the trial, a gag order. If the judge grants the motion then that would prohibit attorneys from speaking to members of the press while the case is before the court.

Sen. Harri Anne Smith walked in with her husband Charlie on her arm. She said she had mixed emotions going into her second trial and added, "I'm really ready to get these charges over with to prove my innocence."

District Judge Myron Thompson will preside over the retrial. He was also the judge during the first trial.

Federal prosecutors did not make themselves available for comment Monday morning. They did not make any public comments for the duration of the first trial and that practice has continued since the first trial ended.

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