Both Baker, lead agent on the case, and court reporter Mallory McCutchin (she was Mallory Johnson at the time, but since has taken back her maiden name) knowingly subverted the grand-jury process, attorney Jim Parkman said.
According to recently unsealed documents, Parkman suggested the matter be referred to George Beck, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, for a grand-jury investigation. "This is a crime," said Parkman, who represented former State Sen. Harri Anne Smith (I-Slocomb).
VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor perhaps was the most high-profile defendant in the two bingo trials, which produced three guilty pleas and zero convictions--proving to be one of the most embarrassing outcomes for federal prosecutors in recent memory.
During a closed-door meeting with U.S. Judge Myron Thompson, federal prosecutor Justin V. Shur tried to downplay the significance of the e-mails between Baker and Johnson. But Parkman was not buying it:
In reading the text messages, Your Honor, Mr. Shur pointed out certain things, but he left out two things that are the most important in here. He just skipped over it like it didn't even exist.
Now, the first one is very clear . . . where Ms. Johnson sends a text message to [Baker], "Don't repeat anything I told you about the grand jury today, please." The response is even more interesting, "I never do." This hadn't been a one-time thing. She has been telling him things about this grand jury and testimony. It is obvious by the words in here that she has been leaking information to him.
Why is this important? Parkman explains, referring to Baker's sworn testimony during a Saturday hearing on the text-message issue:
The importance of this is two-fold. A, it gives him information that he's not entitled to, to either correct with witnesses or to investigate further for the Government's side. Number two, this is a crime. Number three, I was there Saturday, and . . . I did not hear him tell this Court under oath, "Yes, we talked about grand jury stuff." I did not hear him tell you that. That is perjury. There is no other way around it.
And I'm saying to you that I totally agree with you, the good old boy network is in place. They know about this.
Again, look at what she says.
"Did you get my text about the S. G. J. three?"
Answer: "I did. That's a lot of stuff."
Baker: "Is that the last two days?"
"Yep. You've got to read it too."
Parkman, it seems, can't believe what he is reading--and that draws his attention to Bob Riley:
Since when do we start giving grand jury information from a court reporter . . . to investigators? And what's troubling to me is, there have been a lot of innuendos in this case about a relationship, not from me, and I didn't think much of it at first, a lot in here about Governor Riley and his work. [Baker is] going to see Governor Riley in here after he has access to all the grand jury information. So what's up with that?
Parkman clearly sensed something smelly about the whole scenario:
Now, I don't know, and I'm not that smart, but I'll tell you this, when I saw this, this was appalling to me after [Baker's] testimony. You may not think so, Your Honor, but I tell you what, when you have an F. B. I. agent get on this stand and swear under oath to you nothing's going on about this thing and it's right here . . .
So I think this is more serious than what's just the Government going, "Oh, it's just a love affair." I don't mind a love affair, have at it, but when it involves my client and this investigation and this case and lying to your face, I think that it's more serious than that.
What should be done about it? Parkman had some clear ideas:
Now, here's my response of what we need to do. I think it needs to be taken -- I think serious consideration. . . .
Number two is, I think that you should get with, because this is secret in here, there's nothing we can do about it as lawyers, but I think you should get with George Beck, the new U. S. Attorney, and at least begin a process of a grand jury investigation with regard to charges. I'm sorry to say that, but this is serious stuff, especially in light of what I brought to the Court's attention about some rumors in the past. I don't like rumors, but I will tell you that something more may come to light . . . about that. That may not be a rumor anymore.