VictoryLand attorney responds to casino raid

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Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 11:37 pm

SHORTER — VictoryLand attorney Joe Espy cautioned Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange against setting what he termed a “dangerous precedent” hours after Strange announced a search warrant had been served at the Macon County casino in which cash and many electronic bingo machines were seized by authorities Tuesday.

“There has been a failure of the attorney general to follow the rule of law,” Espy said. “This is a sad day in Alabama.”

A court order has been issued, setting a hearing for March 19, that would order the attorney general’s office to ensure that the property seized in Tuesday’s raid is protected, Espy said.

Espy said legal records pertaining to VictoryLand are sealed and no disclosure had been made to him prior to agents from the Attorney General’s Office and the Alabama Department Public Safety executing a search warrant at the gaming facility at approximately 8 a.m. Tuesday.

Espy went on to explain that the judge in Macon County said there was not probable cause to issue a search warrant, a finding that was upheld unanimously by the Alabama Criminal Court of Appeals.

“We’re anxiously awaiting to see how in the world this judge and this criminal court of appeals that unanimously entered this order, according to the order we have in our hands, could have been overturned when the very same judge said it is still improper,” Espy said.

The filing of a civil suit Tuesday by the attorney general’s office against similar electronic bingo facilities operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in other areas of the state amount to what Espy called a smokescreen.

“Do they have a chance to go into court and respond to it,” Espy asked. “Yes.”

“We did not get the same treatment that people who are not even paying taxes got,” Espy said.

Still, Espy said, that does little to address hundreds of VictoryLand employees who were stopped at the casino’s gate as they reported to work Tuesday.

“The problem we’ve got is the good people who have the jobs here that have been turned away,” Espy said. “That’s a month’s salary that’s gone and bills they can’t pay.”