MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) –
Testimony for the third day of the civil case between 17 Macon County charities and Lucky Palace, LLC., against Macon County Sheriff David Warren, Macon County Greyhound Park (known as VictoryLand) and Milton McGregor started off with the continuance of testimony from Fred Gray Jr., the attorney Sheriff Warren asked to assist in writing regulations and eventual amendments for the issuance of licenses to operate electronic bingo in Macon County.
The plaintiffs allege conspiracy, violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, better known as ‘RICO’ as well as violations of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution on behalf of the defendants. They’re suing for profits lost due to the fact that Lucky Palace was never able to obtain a license to operate because of amendments to the original rule.
Fred Gray Jr. continued the testimony he started for the court on Wednesday. Gray was the attorney Sheriff Warren tasked with drafting the rules and regulations to govern electronic bingo in Macon County following the passage of the referendum allowing charity e-bingo in the county.
Part of the contention with Gray Jr.’s involvement was not his experience, it was his family. Fred Gray Jr.’s father, Fred Gray Sr., is, and has been an attorney on retainer for VictoryLand for a long time. Gray Sr. testified as to his involvement on Tuesday and explained he did not morally agree with gambling. Gray Sr. told the court he knew of his son’s involvement with Sheriff Warren in writing the rules, but he had no input and received nothing of value from McGregor or VictoryLand as a result of his son’s involvement.
Stephen Heninger, attorney for Lucky Palace LLC., produced a memo and series of communications between Gray Jr. and Gray Sr. involving Gary Huckaby, another attorney for Lucky Palace. Huckaby notified Gray Sr. that he was seeking to collect all documents containing information on Lucky Palace from the Sheriff. The memo from Gray Sr. to Gray Jr. said “let’s go over it and see what we’re compelled to send.”
Gray Jr. explained that his father’s involvement was not as a representative of VictoryLand but as a friend of Huckaby. Gray Sr. and Huckaby are both past presidents of the Alabama Bar Association – Gray Jr. says his father “simply responded” at his behest.
Gray Jr. was also questioned about his relationship with John Bolton, another VictoryLand attorney. Bolton allegedly wrote the rules and regulations Gray handed over to Sheriff Warren to sign. Gray told the court that Bolton did write some of the regulations and said he did correspond with Bolton, however he couldn’t remember to what extent Bolton was responsible for the rules that were ultimately adopted.
“I can’t really go back in my mind and re-create that now,” explained Gray. The events described in this case took place back in 2003 and 2004. Since then, the Gray Law Firm where some of these documents were stored caught fire and those documents were lost. Servers at a different law firm crashed in 2005 meaning another large chunk of documents were forever lost. Most of this case must come from the memory of the witnesses – and these events took place almost 10 years ago.
Gray told the court shortly before finishing testimony, “It was never my intent, nor was it the Sheriff’s intent to draft rules that would favor VictoryLand.”
Milton McGregor also testified as a witness for the case on Thursday. Despite past legal proceedings, this was McGregor’s first time testifying in court in front of a jury.
McGregor explained that he had no hand in the creation of the Local Constitutional Amendment that allowed for the operation of charity electronic bingo in Macon County.
“The effort to pass the bingo referendum wasn’t made at my request. I didn’t oppose it. I definitely had an interest in it after it passed because I was definitely interested in being an operator for charities.
McGregor said that after the referendum passed, he began to get calls from charities wanting him to offer electronic bingo at VictoryLand. McGregor met with Sheriff Warren and Fred Gray Jr. to express his interest in operating an e-bingo facility.
“I thought, after visiting the Native American facilities, that if I built something nice, I thought people would come and be entertained…I was excited to get started for these charities,” said McGregor.
At that meeting McGregor told Sheriff Warren and Gray Jr. that he wanted to get started “soon.” He also offered the assistance of two VictoryLand attorneys – John Bolton and David Johnston. Bolton and Johnston both had experience with gaming regulations and McGregor thought they could serve as a “resource of information” in writing the regulations Warren needed, should they decide to use them.
McGregor told the court that he meant Bolton and Johnston’s involvement to merely be a resource and says they weren’t acting in the interests of VictoryLand, he thought they were acting on the best interests of Macon County.
“I was trying to be helpful,” explained McGregor.
Ultimately, McGregor said, he just wanted rules that were “fair and equally applied.” He said he would have accepted any rules and that he did not personally give input as to what he thought those rules should look like. McGregor testified that he didn’t even read the rules until after they were finalized, signed by Sheriff Warren and published in the local paper.
“Bolton would never propose anything from the point of view of VictoryLand,” said McGregor. “I gave him no instructions other than to be helpful if his help would be needed.”
McGregor did admit that he wanted ruled that were best for Macon County and also for VictoryLand. And that since Bolton was a Victoryland attorney, McGregor probably did pay for the work he put in when assisting Gray Jr. in drafting the rules.