06-19-2018  5:21 am      •     
The Skanner Report
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Unite Oregon Hosts ‘Mourn Pray Love, and Take Action’ June 20

Community is invited to gather at Terry Schrunk Plaza at 6 p.m. on World Refugee Day ...

MRG Foundation Announces Spring 2018 Grantees

Recipients include Oregon DACA Coalition, Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe, Komemma Cultural Protection Association ...

CareOregon Awards $250,000 for Housing Projects

Recipients include Rogue Retreat, Bridges to Change, Luke Dorf, Transition Projects and Bridge Meadows ...

The Honorable Willie L. Brown to Receive NAACP Spingarn Medal

The award recognizes Brown’s lifelong commitment to the community, equality and civil rights ...

Watching Oprah: The Oprah Winfrey Show and American Culture

New Smithsonian exhibit looks at how Oprah Winfrey shaped American culture and vice versa ...

Prosecutor: Oregon man justified in shooting near hotel

BEND, Ore. (AP) — A heavy equipment operator was legally justified when he shot and wounded a knife-wielding man last month outside an Oregon hotel, a prosecutor said Monday.However, Robert Garris was foolish to appoint himself "sheriff of the Days Inn" and initiate a confrontation with the...

Some forest trails remain closed long after 2017 wildfire

IDANHA, Ore. (AP) — Some trails in Oregon's Willamette National Forest remain closed because of damage from a wildfire that scorched the area last year.The Whitewater Trail into the Jefferson Park area remains closed. Other trails, including some in the Fall Creek area near Eugene, also are...

Border separations ripple through midterm campaigns

Wrenching scenes of migrant children being separated from their parents at the southern border are roiling campaigns ahead of midterm elections, emboldening Democrats on the often-fraught issue of immigration while forcing an increasing number of Republicans to break from President Donald Trump on...

Spokane man convicted in 2015 deadly shooting

MOSES LAKE, Wash. (AP) — A Spokane man has been convicted of killing a Moses Lake teenager during a 2015 robbery attempt.The Columbia Basin Herald reports Jeremiah Smith was found guilty of first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, first-degree assault and first-degree unlawful possession...


What Happened? Assessing the Singapore Summit

For all its weaknesses, we are better off having had the summit than not ...

Redlining Settlement Fails to Provide Strong Penalties

A recent settlement of a federal redlining lawsuit is yet another sign that justice is still being denied ...

5 Lessons on Peace I Learned from My Cat Soleil

Dr. Jasmine Streeter takes some cues on comfort from her cat ...

Research Suggests Suicides By Racial and Ethnic Minorities are Undercounted

Sociologist Dr. Kimya Dennis describes barriers to culturally-specific suicide research and treatment ...


Border separations ripple through midterm campaigns

Wrenching scenes of migrant children being separated from their parents at the southern border are roiling campaigns ahead of midterm elections, emboldening Democrats on the often-fraught issue of immigration while forcing an increasing number of Republicans to break from President Donald Trump on...

Germany: Syrian teen on trial over anti-Semitic assault

BERLIN (AP) — A 19-year-old from Syria is on trial in Berlin over an assault in the German capital on an Israeli wearing a skullcap.The young man is charged with bodily harm and slander. The April 17 attack caused nationwide outrage and fueled concerns over anti-Semitism in Germany.German...

City where many slaves entered US to apologize for slavery

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The South Carolina city where almost half of all the slaves brought to the United States first set foot on American soil is ready to apologize for its role in the slave trade.The resolution expected to be passed by the Charleston City Council on Tuesday offers a...


In 'Jurassic World,' a dino-sized animal-rights parable

NEW YORK (AP) — The dinosaurs of "Jurassic Park" are many things. They are special-effects wonders. They are unruly house guests. And they are some of the biggest, most foot-stomping metaphors around.Since Steven Spielberg's 1993 original, the dinos of "Jurassic Park" — many of them...

Immigration detention policy becomes major issue in media

NEW YORK (AP) — In a phone conversation with her executive producer over the weekend, "CBS This Morning" anchor Gayle King wondered if there wasn't more the network could do on the story of children being separated from parents through the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration...

Adam Levine, Behati Prinsloo share baby photo

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine spent his first Father's Day as a dad of two.Supermodel Behati Prinsloo shared a photo on Instagram of the 39-year-old holding their second daughter, Gio Grace, who was born in February. Their first daughter, Dusty Rose, is nearly 2 years...


Looking for signs of global warming? It's all around you

GOTHIC, Colo. (AP) — David Inouye is an accidental climate scientist.More than 40 years ago, the University...

A big stink erupts over landfills ringing Russia's capital

KOLOMNA, Russia (AP) — Walking to a store in March, Olga Yevseyeva was hit by the familiar, noxious stench...

US could back 1st pot-derived medicine, and some are worried

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — A British pharmaceutical company is getting closer to a decision on whether...

North Korea's Kim meets with Chinese President Xi in Beijing

BEIJING (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday at the...

Twin brothers reunited 74 years after WWII death at Normandy

COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France (AP) — For decades, he was known only as Unknown X-9352 at a World War II...

France's Macron admonishes teenager; video goes viral

PARIS (AP) — A video of French President Emmanuel Macron strongly admonishing a teenager who called him by...

Phillip Rawls Associated Press

Alabama Gov. Bob Riley

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- The allegations stunned the Alabama Statehouse: lawmakers accused of selling their votes on legislation to legalize electronic bingo games at a time when the then-governor was ordering raids on gambling halls to seize the machines.

The buyers? According to federal prosecutors, those who would benefit most: casino owners who made a killing from gamblers attracted to the flashing lights and colors of the electronic machines.

The trial against two sitting senators and two former ones, a well-known casino owner and four others lasted more than two months that included a week of deliberations by jurors who Thursday delivered a stunner of their own - no convictions.

"The jury didn't give the government a thing, not a single thing," defense attorney Susan James said.

The inquiry started when three Republican legislators told the FBI they were offered campaign contributions if they would support the legislation.

The three used devices to record phone calls and meetings. The FBI wiretapped phones in a yearlong probe that coincided with former Gov. Bob Riley creating a gambling task force to shut down privately operated casinos. He contended they were illegal slot machines, while proponents portrayed them as a high-tech version of paper bingo, which is legal in some Alabama counties.

Legislators tried to pass electronic bingo bills in 2009 and 2010. Both failed.

Behind the scenes, federal prosecutors said, operators of the two largest private casinos and teams of lobbyists were offering millions in campaign contributions, benefit concerts by country music artists, free polling and hidden $1 million-a-year payments in return for votes.

On Oct. 4, agents arrested nine people and charged them with bribery and fraud in an alleged scheme that the head of Justice Department's criminal division called "astonishing in scope ... a full-scale campaign to bribe legislators and others."

For months, jurors listened to more than 80 recordings of lawmakers, lobbyists and casino owners - some with salty language and racially charged comments - as prosecutors tried to prove their case. The defense pushed the argument that it's normal to discuss campaign contributions in an election year and that none of the 12,000 recorded phone calls had any senator agreeing to commit bribery by exchanging a vote for a campaign contribution.

After five days, jurors said they were deadlocked on many of the charges and didn't think they could ever come to a conclusion. The judge told them to keep talking.

Two days later, they came back and outright acquitted two defendants - state Sen. Quinton Ross Jr. of Montgomery and Robert E. "Bob" Geddie Jr., lobbyist for Victoryland casino owner Milton McGregor.

The rest, including McGregor, were acquitted on some charges and the 11 women and one man on the jury could not reach verdicts on other counts. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson declared a mistrial on all unresolved charges and said he will announce a date for a retrial within a month.

Geddie's attorney was visibly upset as he left the courthouse.

"It's an unbelievable thing that the government can put an innocent citizen through this with no evidence," Jimmy Judkins said.

After the failure to convict, at least this time around, the Justice Department issued a two-sentence statement that did not indicate whether prosecutors would continue to pursue all unresolved charges against the remaining seven defendants.

"We appreciate the jury's service in this important public corruption trial. Our prosecutors will discuss next steps as we move forward in this matter," spokeswoman Laura Sweeney said in an email.

The attorney for accused state Sen. Harri Anne Smith of Slocomb said the Washington-based prosecutors failed to paint Alabama politics and members of the Legislature as dishonest.

"To say that Alabama is besmirched with bad politics is not true. We've got a great Legislature," Jim Parkman said.

Smith was acquitted of one count of bribery, one count of extortion and nine counts of honest services fraud. Jurors failed to agree on the other charges against her.

She, Ross and two former senators on trial voted in favor of the legislation that passed the Senate in 2010. The FBI disclosed its investigation of Statehouse corruption two days later, and the bill died in the House without ever coming to a vote.

Smith and Ross won re-election after being indicted. Ex-Sens. Larry Means of Attala lost, and Sen. James E. "Jim" Preuitt of Talladega dropped his re-election campaign.

Means was acquitted on 14 of the 16 charges against him and got a mistrial on the remaining two, conspiracy and bribery. Preuitt was found not guilty of 12 of 15 charges, with mistrials declared on one count each of conspiracy, bribery and lying to an FBI agent.

Federal prosecutors have gone after corruption before in the state with much more success.

They produced convictions of former Gov. Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy for bribery and 17 people, including three legislators, in an investigation of corruption in the state's two-year college system.

And prosecutors did get three people to admit guilt in the gambling case. Country Crossing casino developer Ronnie Gilley and two of his lobbyists, Jennifer Pouncy and Jarrod Massey, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and testified against the nine defendants.

McGregor's attorney said the split decision and the prospect of a retrial leaves efforts to pass pro-gambling legislation and reopen closed casinos in limbo. McGregor was acquitted of one count of bribery and two counts of honest services fraud. The jury failed to reach a verdict on his 14 other charges.

During the trial, Gilley and lobbyist Massey talked about arranging a campaign fundraiser for Smith with country singers Lorrie Morgan and John Anderson to make sure she supported the gambling bill and testified about working with McGregor to offer a $1 million-a-year job to another senator who was helping the FBI.

Pouncy testified about offering $2 million in campaign support to Preuitt, agreeing to give a $100,000 contribution to Means, and being aggressively pursued by Ross for donations as the Senate was approaching a vote on the gambling bill.

Republican Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale wore a recording device in one meeting where Gilley, Massey and McGregor were seeking his vote, and he recorded McGregor saying, "Ronnie and I are just alike in that we've got a bad habit of supporting our friends."

Alabama's Republican governor and GOP legislative leaders declined comment after the split decision because some charges must be retried.

Others on trial and the decisions:

- Jay Walker, spokesman for Country Crossing casino, was acquitted of 11 counts of honest services fraud. A mistrial was declared on one count each of conspiracy and bribery.

- Joseph Raymond "Ray" Crosby, a former bill writer for the Legislature, got a mistrial on his only count of bribery.

- Thomas E. Coker, a lobbyist for McGregor, was acquitted of 11 counts and got a mistrial on one count each of conspiracy, bribery and honest services fraud.


Associated Press writer Bob Johnson contributed to this report.

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