TMZ: FBI Newton Probe Linked To Auburn Booster

Earlier today I reported that noted Auburn sports booster Milton McGregor was arrested by the FBI last month on political bribery allegations following a lengthy federal investigation that included wiretaps.

Milton McGregor

(Auburn Booster Milton McGregor, wiretapped, arrested by FBI)

TMZ.com is now reporting:

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.

As I reported this morning, also arrested last month in the same FBI wiretap investigation was prominent Alabama lobbyist and Auburn alumnus Robert Geddie.

Geddie’s firm has reportedly been paid nearly a million dollars to represent Auburn over the years, with those funds coming from an Auburn Athletic Department fundraising arm called, “Tigers Unlimited.

As owner of the state’s largest electronic bingo casino, Birmingham’s VictoryLand, Milton McGregor is one of the highest-profile Auburn boosters in the state. In 2008, he donated $1 million toward construction of the new Auburn basketball arena.

The morning of October, 4, 2010, the BIRMINGHAM NEWS reported:

FBI agents swept across Alabama this morning arresting state lawmakers and lobbyists as part of a federal probe into efforts to pass gambling legislation last spring.

The biggest name arrested so far has been VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor, who was arrested at his Montgomery home this morning.

Before McGregor was arrested by FBI agents, the Birmingham News reported of the ongoing investigation on May 7, 2010:

Sources familiar with the investigation have said the probe has included the use of wiretaps, and several lawmakers agreed to wear wires to capture the conversations between themselves, other lawmakers and lobbyists.

One of those lobbyists, prominent Auburn alumnus Robert Geddie, was arrested by FBI agents on the same day as Auburn booster McGregor as part of the same Federal investigation.

From the BIRMINGHAM NEWS:

Geddie, who along with partner Joe Fine, have operated maybe the capitol city’s most powerful contract lobbyist firm for years.

Budd McLaughlin of the HUNTSVILLE (AL) TIMES reported in 2008 of Auburn’s financial relationship with Geddie’s firm:

Alabama and Auburn pay a total of $20,000-a-month retainer fees to the Montgomery lobbying firm of Fine Geddie & Associates LLC, which has 50 clients, including some of the nation’s largest corporations.

At Auburn, the lobbying firm is paid from Tigers Unlimited, AU’s Athletic Department’s fund-raising arm.

Last month, shortly after Geddie’s arrest following FBI wiretaps, the OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS reported of the current state of Geddie’s firm’s business relationship with Auburn’s “athletic department fund-raising arm“, Tigers Unlimited:

A whopping amount of the money flowing to the firm, almost a million dollars thus far, has been paid by the Auburn Athletics/Tigers Unlimited Foundation (TUF).

The O-A News added that in the wake of Geddie’s arrest, “Deedie Dowdell, who heads the Marketing and Communications Department at Auburn, said there are no plans to end the contracts (with Geddie’s firm.)

Auburn’s Dowdell also noted that as the AU athletics fund-raising Tigers Unlimited was expressly created as a private organization, it can keep all of its financial dealings secret.

UPDATE: TMZ.com has updated its story on McGregor being linked to the FBI investigation of Cam Newton recruitment:

Milton McGregor’s attorney tells TMZ his client has “never had any contact – direct or indirect – with Cam Newton, Cecil Newton, Cam’s father; Kenny Rogers or anyone purporting to represent Cam Newton.” He also says McGregor has never compensated student athletes at Auburn or any other school.

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