State lawmaker mum on his role in gambling probe - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

State lawmaker mum on his role in gambling probe

By Alan Collins

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - A state lawmaker will not say he wore a wire to help with a federal corruption probe that led to the arrest of 11 people, including Victoryland owner Milton McGregor, Country Crossing owner Ronald Gilley, and four state lawmakers.

Gardendale Sen. Scott Beason said Tuesday he approached federal investigators in 2009 after some uncomfortable conversations dealing with support for electronic bingo.

"I did go to speak to authorities in spring of 2009," Beason told FOX6 News. "I was involved in a couple of conversations I didn't think were necessarily appropriate and I went to have a discussion with them."

Senators Jim Preuitt, Hari Anne Smith, Larry Means and Quinton Ross were the four state lawmakers indicted Monday. Beason said he was not happy to see them indicted.

"It's a sad situation," Beason said. "It's unfortunate there are allegation of public corruption in Alabama but I think people have wondered what went on in Alabama for years and years."

In the indictment, prosecutors make reference to lawmaker number two as a state senator who helped with the investigation. Beason would not confirm he was that lawmaker.

"My goal is to make sure I don't do anything to jeopardize what they say is an ongoing investigation," Beason said. "I sure don't want to jeopardize the prosecution."

Some lawmakers say having legislators wearing wires and working with federal investigators may result in strained feelings in the state legislature.

"I think for the first initial session after this will affect some people but I think we will outgrow it," Sen. Jabo Waggoner of Vestavia Hills said.

"Very much so... now we are going to make sure everyone goes into the shower before we talk to them," Rep. John Rogers of Birmingham said.

Beason said he stands by his decision, even though there are safety concerns being linked to the undercover lawmakers.

"You have to be concerned about that. You are talking about millions and millions of dollars at stake for people in this situation." Beason said.

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