MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) _ A wiretapped phone call played Monday in Alabama's gambling corruption trial raised the race issue for the second time, this time by those trying to pass pro-gambling legislation.
Prosecutors offered a wiretapped phone call Monday in which Country Crossing casino lobbyist Jarrod Massey talked with Country Crossing spokesman Jay Walker about issuing a statement to the media to rebut comments by casino opponents.
Massey said too many statements had come from Country Crossing casino in Dothan and another casino needed to speak out. But he said the statement probably didn't need to come from Greenetrack casino in predominantly black Greene County.
“We don't need to blacken this thing up any more than possible,'' Massey told Walker.
Defense attorneys offered another tape three weeks ago in which a key prosecution witness referred to Greenetrack customers as “aborigines.''
Massey, who has pleaded guilty, was testifying for the prosecution Monday about offering bribes to buy legislators' votes for a proposed constitutional amendment designed to protect electronic bingo casinos from raids by state police.
He testified he probably made a poor choice of words, but he said he always speaks frankly. He said the gambling issue had long been associated with African-American communities because of the location of some gambling attractions, but proponents needed to win over white legislators' votes, particularly white Republicans.
“I wanted to try to show diversity,'' he testified.
The FBI taped phones calls of Massey, Country Crossing casino developer Ronnie Gilley and VictoryLand casino owner Milton McGregor in March 2010 while investigating Statehouse corruption. Republican Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale, an opponent of the legislation, helped the FBI by taping meetings with proponents and opponents of the gambling legislation. All those tapes were turned over to defense attorneys before the trial.
When Beason testified June 16, defense attorneys offered a transcript of a taped meeting he had with other Republican legislators where Beason referred to Greenetrack customers as “aborigines.'' The Republican legislators also speculated about what would happen if the proposed constitutional amendment on gambling ended up on the general election ballot in November 2010, when the GOP was trying to take over the Legislature from Democrats.
They said it would bring out more black voters because casino owners would offer free buffets, bus rides and gambling credits to get voters to the polls.
“That's right. That's right,'' Beason said in the transcript.
Massey and Gilley have pleaded guilty and are helping prosecutors. Walker, McGregor and seven others are in the sixth week of their federal court trial.
Massey, who is already in jail, wore a red jail uniform during his testimony Monday.
He testified that indicted VictoryLand casino lobbyist Tom Coker coordinated all the lobbyists working for various casinos in March 2010 trying to pass the pro-gambling legislation.
He also testified that Walker offered a poll and other campaign support to indicted former Sen. Jim Preuitt of Talladega to get his vote for the gambling legislation. Massey said he authorized another lobbyist to offer Preuitt $1 million to $2 million in campaign support for his vote.
Preuitt voted for the bill when the Senate approved it March 30, 2010. Two days later, the FBI disclosed it was investigating widespread corruption, and the bill died in the House without coming to a vote. That kept it off the November 2010 ballot, and the Republican Party won control of the Legislature for the first time in 136 years.