Former State Senator Larry Means (D-Attalla) was found not guilty last week in federal court in the Alabama bingo corruption trial.
Means was charged with accepting or offering bribes to help pass a gambling bill last year. Last August, he was acquitted of all but two of the 16 original charges.
Means served as the Alabama District 10 senator until 2010. Means and eight others were charged with 122 counts of gambling, bribery and fraud.
Also acquitted were Sen. Quinton Ross, Jr. (D), Sen. Harri Anne Smith (D), former Sen. James Preuitt, former legislative analyst Ray Crosby, lobbyists Thomas Coker and Robert Geddie, Jr., casino spokesman Jarrell Walker and Victoryland casino owner Milton McGregor.
While not commenting specifically on the charges, Means was relieved that his 18-month long ordeal in federal court finally was at an end.
“It’s just one of those things in life that you go through, and you’ve got to be tough about it. It was a year and a half of me and my family’s lives being in [the federal prosecutors’] hands. If you told me before this whole thing began that you could do it in America, I’d have said there’s no way, but you can [do it].”
“There was a conspiracy here, but it wasn’t the conspiracy that was tried in court,” said State Representative and House Minority Leader Craig Ford (D-Gadsden). “The testimony proves the Republican leaders conspired. They actually played tapes of Republican legislators conspiring to kill the legislation in order to keep Democratic voters from showing up at the polls. There was a conspiracy to rig the legislative process, deny citizens the right to vote, and influence the outcome of the elections. Voters should remember the lengths Republicans will go to keep citizens from expressing their will.”
Ford questioned the extravagant spending on the case by the government when the money could have been spent in a meaningful way.
“This has been a complete waste of taxpayers’ money. Just imagine what that kind of money could do for our school systems.”
Means said that that he and his wife Karen would take some time to think things through before making a decision about a possible return to public office.
“I haven’t made any definite plans, but I’m not ruling out some more politics. We’ll sit down and talk about it over the next few weeks and see what we’re going to do. One thing that I learned is you never say never in politics.
“We’re blessed that we had so many people praying for us,” Means added. “We’re not mad at anybody, but you do find out how many true friends you really have.”
Joshua Price contributed to this story.
This story was supplemented by al.com.