Hammett: Bingo scandal black eye for state

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Speaker of the House Seth Hammett called this week’s indictments of 11 people for alleged vote-buying on a proposed electronic gaming bill a “black eye for Alabama.”

Hammett, who addressed participants at the Alabama Forestry Commission’s regional forestry field day, said he and others in Montgomery were made aware of the investigation.

“Early on, (the investigation) was revealed to several of us in leadership positions (in the legislature),” he said. “The news (of Monday’s arrests) was a black eye for all of us in Alabama. I hope it’s one we can get over. We have to let justice take its course.”

Hammett was among those subpoenaed to testify before the federal grand jury investigating the alleged scheme earlier this year.

The 11 indicted, who also included VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor, Country Crossing developer Ronnie Gilley and lobbyists, are charged with conspiracy, bribery and mail fraud.

The group is set for arraignment on Oct. 15, Hammett said.

“The FBI spent a lot of time on its investigation,” he said. “I don’t know how things are going to turn out, but we have to remember that people are innocent until proven guilty.”