A wide-ranging FBI investigation into political corruption in Alabama allegedly perpetrated by a prominent Auburn booster and casino owner took some interesting turns today.
(FBI-wiretapped Auburn booster pleads to attend Auburn BCS game)
The Auburn booster, Milton McGregor, will stand trial on April 4 on charges that he attempted to buy the influence of state politicians. If convicted on all charges, McGregor faces 285 years in a federal penitentiary and $4.5 million in fines.
McGregor is currently out on $500,000 bail and today asked federal judge Terry Moorer for a 72-hour pass to Arizona to attend Auburn’s BCS Championship Game against Oregon on January 10.
The Auburn booster’s request was promptly granted.
On November 17, 2010, TMZ.com reported, “the FBI investigation into the cash for Cam Newton scandal now involves a guy who gave more than $1 million to Auburn University … and was recently arrested in a bribery sting.”
According to sources connected to the probe … FBI agents looking into the Newton recruiting controversy are also asking about Milton McGregor — a dog track owner arrested last month for allegedly bribing Alabama politicians to vote pro gambling.
We’re told agents asked someone connected to the Newton case if he was familiar with McGregor or the bribery scandal.
McGregor subsequently denied that he had any connection to Newton’s recruitment.
Last Friday I reported that one of McGregor’s co-defendants in the same federal case, Auburn alumnus and lobbyist Robert Geddie, fired his personal attorney three weeks ago while retaining Auburn’s lead NCAA defense attorney since 1991, Sam Franklin.
In exchange for his political lobbying duties on behalf of Auburn, Geddie’s firm has reportedly been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent years from a private Auburn Athletics fund called Tigers Unlimited.
Today another McGregor co-defendant in the federal case, Auburn alumnus and lobbyist Jarrod Massey, pled guilty to the six charges leveled against him by the FBI.
The MOBILE PRESS-REGISTER noted of the plea reversal:
Massey’s plea likely will send shockwaves through the defense camps of the other defendants in the case, many of whom have said they will fight the charges and that there was no undue legislative influence in the bingo vote.
Early pleas can be a sign that a defendant has agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors and testify against fellow defendants in return for leniency from the court system.
Depending on Massey’s level of cooperation with the Feds, today’s plea could be bad news for McGregor and Geddie, to say the least.
So while McGregor has denied any involvement in providing financial enticements to Auburn athletes over the years, news of the FBI’s interest in the Cam Newton situation and McGregor’s well-publicized request to associate himself with Auburn’s crowning football achievement does little to diminish the suspicion that the FBI could soon weigh in on the state of Auburn athletics.
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