Charges stemming from the investigation of illegal gambling and bribery in Kimberly continue to come down from a federal grand jury, with three more co-conspirators reaching plea bargains with federal porsecutors.
Christopher Adam McGraw, Carl Scoggins and John L. Taylor have entered plea agreements with the Department of Justice, in which they admitted to one count each of conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery. The count relates to bribes offered and paid to Mayor Craig Harris over the course of six months, during which time Harris was working on behalf of federal investigators, and was secretly recording the bribe offers and payments. It also relates to the operation of at least four places where illegal gambling machines were located.
McGraw and Taylor are cooperating with investigators, Scoggins' attorney told The Birmingham News that he would not cooperate. (Scoggins is McGraw's uncle.)
The factual basis for the plea, a separate document that is part of McGraw's plea bargain, states that McGraw was one of at least five co-conspirators who were part of an illegal gambling operation in Kimberly and surrounding areas.
The document goes on to detail four locations by name where illegal gambling machines were operated for brief periods of time. Among them:
- "The White House," located on U.S. 31 just south of the now-closed IGA Supermarket. This location operated from December 2010 until February 2011, when "a law enforcement officer from a neighboring town directed that the illegal gambling location be closed." A source who asked not to be identified has told The North Jefferson News that this officer was from the Morris Police Department, which was not aware of the federal investigation at the time.
- "The Yellow House," in the Bradford community. It opened the day after "The White House" shut down, and ran until April 7, 2011 when it was raided by law enforcement from Jefferson and Blount counties.
- "Pops," on Crane Street near the southern edge of the Kimberly city limits, about two blocks north of what was then Mortimer Jordan High School. The location opened on or about February 1, 2011, and was shut down in the same raid as "The Yellow House."
- "The Love Shack," on Bill Jones Road. This location was outside Kimberly, but the city's police still responded to calls in the area. It operated for about two weeks before it was also part of the April 7 raid.
One other gambling house is mentioned in Green Valley.
McGraw, Scoggins and John Taylor face prison sentences of up to five years, plus fines of $250,000; however, plea bargains are normally offered in exchange for a lesser sentence.
Four of the nine co-conspirators have now plea-bargained with prosecutors, including Daniel "Boone" Stone of Morris, while Robert Taylor has been indicted on three criminal counts plus a forfeiture count. Robert Taylor was arrested and released on $10,000 bond earlier this week.
The Taylors, Scoggins and McGraw will be arraigned in U.S. District Court on May 17.
Note: An earlier story about this investigation indicated that the AMVETS post in Kimberly was the site of illegal gambling machines. Instead, the post was where prosecutors assert that the co-conspirators met to plan the operation of multiple gambling houses, as well as the bribery of Mayor Harris.