Country Crossing developer Ronnie Gilley, his chief lobbyist Jarrod Massey and former state Rep. Terry Spicer have six more weeks of freedom after being sentenced to prison on Monday after pleading guilty to their roles in government corruption.
All three men, who pleaded guilty to offering or accepting bribes, must voluntarily surrender to the federal prison they are assigned to by 2 p.m. on Aug. 27, but were released on Monday because they were not considered flight risks.
Gilley, who pleaded guilty to attempting to bribe seven public officials, was sentenced to six years and eight months in prison and ordered to forfeit $200,000. Massey was sentenced to five years and five months in prison and fined $20,000. Spicer was sentenced to four years and nine months and fined $40,000.
Massey and Gilley will receive credit for time they have served. Massey served nine months in jail after deciding to begin serving his sentence early, although he later successfully moved to get out. Gilley served time in the Montgomery city jail after he was accused of obstruction of justice for trying to bribe Massey following their indictment and arrest.
U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson sentenced the men after a daylong hearing in which friends and family including each of their wives and Massey’s two sons, 13 and 15, pleaded with the judge for leniency and said that the men were needed at home, especially with children and medical issues in each family. Spicer and Gilley have wives with debilitating illnesses and said their husbands fill the vacuum when they physically cannot and that their husbands get them to the doctor.
Some of the family members tearfully begged for mercy. They said the defendants and their families had suffered enough, with Gilley and Massey’s wives talking about receiving threats and people following them. They said they had suffered devastating financial and emotional losses and that the situation has been humiliating.
“The toughest thing is now knowing the road I created for my family,” Massey said in court.
Lead prosecutor Kendall Day, with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section, said the corruption, involving the attempted bribery of so many officials, was some of the most serious corruption his office had ever seen.
Gilley said leaving the courthouse that he was ready to move forward and refused to comment on the past, such as whether the jury got it right in the two corruption trials he testified in. He said there had already been enough pain in the last three years.
Gilley and Massey, whose wives said they were changed men and that they had become better husbands and spiritual leaders in their families, pleaded guilty leading up to the first corruption trial. They testified about bribes to Spicer in that trial, which started in June 2011.
None of the nine defendants were found guilty in those two trials.
Gilley and Massey were arrested along with nine other people in October 2010, but the other defendants including VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor and four current or former state lawmakers were found not guilty.
Massey offered state Sen. Scott Beason a $1 million a year job in exchange for his vote. Beason, R-Gardendale, was cooperating with the FBI and wearing a recording device.
Gilley said the situation might be the best thing that has ever happened to him.
“It’s cost me everything, but I’ve gained my salvation,” he said.
Massey and Gilley received considerably shorter terms than federal prosecutors suggested.
Gilley and Massey admitted to attempting to bribe state officials with millions of dollars in cash, campaign contributions, and other campaign help including appearances from country music stars in exchange for favorable votes on gambling legislation that would have benefitted the Country Crossing development near Dothan. Country singer Darryl Worley was among those there in support of Gilley on Monday.
Gilley and Massey pleaded guilty to conspiracy and bribery. Gilley, who pleaded to 11 total counts, also pleaded guilty to money laundering. Massey pleaded to six counts.
Spicer, who refused to comment as he left the courthouse, pleaded guilty to one count of bribery, but admitted to taking monthly payments from Massey totaling $31,000, taking $9,000 for the down payment on a boat, going on a $10,000 ski trip to Colorado for his family funded by Massey, and to taking other gifts from Massey in exchange for helping Massey obtain clients and, once he did, helping those clients to succeed at the State House.
Spicer said none of them set out to do anything wrong.
“The three of us set out to do great things for our people,” he said.
Prosecutors asked for a reduced sentence for Massey and Gilley because of their assistance in the case and because they have accepted responsibility for their actions. Thompson also said that it impressed him that Gilley and Massey admitted their roles and took responsibility and were remorseful.
“I am absolutely guilty of what I pled to. I lost my way. I had everything going for me in a material way and professionally,” Massey said to the courtroom.
Gilley, who said his “ego raged out of control,” told the court “I’m a grown man. I made a conscious decision to jump off a cliff.”
Gilley and Massey also have cooperated with a state corruption investigation and have testified before a state grand jury, according to court proceedings on Monday.
Jennifer Pouncy, a former Country Crossing lobbyist who worked for Massey, is the only remaining defendant who has not been sentenced. She goes before Thompson on Aug. 29. She was the first to plead guilty and played a much smaller role in the scheme so she is expected to receive a much smaller sentence.