Ronnie Gilley Pleads Guilty

Ronnie Gilley

Like a real life episode of HBO’s The Wire, the case of Ronnie Gilley and Country Crossing continues to unfold in unexpected ways.

In the latest development, Gilley struck a plea deal with prosecutors Friday (4/22) and pleaded guilty to 11 counts of conspiracy, money laundering, and bribery. He was arrested in October 2010 along with a group that included four Alabama state legislators, lobbyists, and Greyhound racetrack owner Milton McGregor as part of a federal investigation into corruption in Alabama politics.

Gilley’s now closed Country Crossing bingo pavilion and entertainment complex in Dothan, Alabama was a lightning rod of controversy from the beginning. The business model relied on electronic bingo machines of dubious legality to keep the wheels in motion, to the ire of former Alabama governor Bob Riley. Nashville’s music industry got involved with Gilley when he leveraged his country music connections to promote the facility. A handful of country artists partnered with Gilley to brand Country Crossing’s restaurants and amenities.

As part of the plea deal, Gilley will assist the prosecution in efforts to prove that McGregor, two lobbyists, and Alabama state legislators conspired to buy and sell votes for the gambling bill. He faces up to 27 years in federal prison when he is sentenced in November, but that could be shortened depending on his cooperation with prosecutors.

Gilley was also granted a 24-hour leave from jail over the weekend to be with his son during a surgical procedure. The trial is expected to begin June 6.

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