Imprisoned lobbyist Jarrod Massey, a key government witness in the Alabama bingo trial, was assaulted recently at the Maxwell Federal Prison Camp in Montgomery. Details about the event are sketchy, but a source tells Legal Schnauzer that the beating caused Massey to be placed in intensive care. We have received no further word on his condition, and our source says the beating actually took place about a week before news of it broke in the press.
As this story unfolds, I think back to a couple of e-mails I received from Jarrod Massey a little more than a year ago. And I wonder if the contents of those e-mails might provide clues about an apparent attempt on his life.
The limited information we have at this point raises a couple of issues:
(1) A beating that was severe enough to leave the victim in intensive care sounds like an attempted assassination. Depending on Massey's current condition and chances for recovery, it still could prove to be a homicide;
(2) Given Massey's status as a high-profile prisoner, it's hard to understand why authorities were slow about releasing information.
Why would someone want to kill Jarrod Massey? Well, it's curious that the beating coincides with a grand jury that Attorney General Luther Strange has called in Houston County. The focus of the grand jury has not been publicly disclosed, but news reports hint that prosecutors likely are interested in gambling-related activity. (Things never seem to change in Alabama, do they?)
Dothan-based rickeystokesnews.com has produced two insightful posts in recent days:
* Lottery Used to Select Members of Grand Jury . . .
* Will Special Grand Jury Expand Their Investigation Into Areas of Allegations?
Could the grand jury focus on Strange's own documented ties to gambling, plus those of his ally, former Republican Governor Bob Riley? Stokes puts that question front and center:
At this time we do not know if the scope of the Grand Jury investigation will extend to the reports of the Indian money and contributions being given to former Governor Bob Riley and the current Attorney General Luther Strange. That is certainly within the discretion of the members of the Grand Jury as I understand from some legal minds.
Did someone think Jarrod Massey had damaging information that could wind up in front of the grand jury? If so, who might have been concerned about such information, and what did it involve?
I've never met or spoken with Jarrod Massey, but the assault story hit home in a personal way. I wrote last December about a pair of e-mails Massey sent me, offering to share information about Republican consultant Dax Swatek and others connected to the Riley administration. Here is the key part of what Massey wrote:
I would . . . welcome an opportunity to discuss my past associations with Dax Swatek. In summation, he is a very unscrupulous sort who is well protected by the Riley net and his linked-at-the-hip connection to Billy and Leura Canary and the Bradley Arant law firm. This of course is nothing you are not already familiar with. I can point you in the right direction for your information gathering purposes. You'll find it quite interesting.
At the time of the e-mails, Massey had pleaded guilty and testified against other defendants in the Alabama bingo trial, which ended with zero convictions in August 2011. He was set to testify again in the retrial, which started in January 2012--and again, resulted in zero convictions.
I would have been glad to meet with Mr. Massey, but given the circumstances, I thought it best not to communicate with an individual who was under the control of federal prosecutors. Visions of someone trying to frame me for witness tampering or obstruction of justice convinced me that any conversation with Jarrod Massey would have to wait for another day.
Now it sounds like Mr. Massey's life might be hanging in the balance. And I have to wonder if that might be connected to unflattering information he apparently was willing to share about those close to the Riley regime.
Am I being overly dramatic? Well, it's important to consider the toxic political environment in our state. We have reported several times on a string of mysterious Alabama deaths during the later years of the Riley administration. Was someone trying to add to that number with the beating of Jarrod Massey?
Bob Riley no longer is in office, but the crusade he started against non-Indian gambling is ongoing--with Luther Strange now in a leading role, and Governor Robert Bentley seemingly out to lunch.
Did that ugly combination put Jarrod Massey's life in danger?