More than two years after his arrest, Ronnie Gilley reported Monday to begin serving a prison term of almost seven years. He was sentenced last year for attempting to bribe lawmakers in an effort to secure their vote on a proposed gambling bill. The measure, had it passed, might have saved Country Crossing which Gilley developed with the aid of investors.
"I pray that something wonderful comes out of this quagmire," Gilley wrote on his Facebook page before surrendering to federal authorities. "I am so sorry I compromised my integrity in such a way. I will truly do all I can to make things right in the future."
The future--when it comes to freedom---may be a while. Gilley will serve a six year and eight month sentence. That time may be cut slightly for good behavior. He was sent to the federal penitentiary in Atlanta though Gilley may be moved to another prison in the next few weeks.
Gilley admitted guilt while most of the ten other defendants arrested in the statehouse vote-buying investigation were vindicated of similar charges. He testified against many of his co-defendants, once allies in the effort to force a statewide vote to determine the legality of electronic bingo machines in Alabama. A bill calling for a referendum passed the House during the 2010 session but failed in the Senate.
Country Crossing was forced to close earlier that year by the Governor's Task Force on Illegal Gambling which raided the Houston County development and other casinos in Macon, Greene, Lowndes, Baldwin, Jefferson, and Walker Counties. The bingo machines used at those venues were either confiscated or transported out of Alabama under an attorney general's office.