Defense attorney Billy Joe Sheffield, during a press conference Thursday, said the only thing Snellgrove did is be a good citizen. “He went to the grand jury, family members went to the grand jury, he was trying to assist in this investigation and he was doing everything he could to help the attorney general,” Sheffield said.
Specifically, Snellgrove is accused of illegally conducting business with Country Crossing and Gilley in regard to security and septic services provided the development. He was arrested Tuesday on two felony counts and released a short time later. Snellgrove was defeated for re-election to his District Two seat in 2010.
Snellgrove, 70, was one of several current and former county commissioners subpoenaed to testify before the panel that began hearing evidence more than a year ago. While such proceedings are private, it is known the grand jury probe centered on the relationship between the county, its commissioners, and Country Crossing. The development, including a casino, was approved by commissioners in 2008.
Country Crossing opened December 1, 2009 but shut down twice—the second one permanently-- amid threat of a raid by agents of the Governor’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling. Gilley was later sentenced to federal prison after pleading guilty to charges he attempted to buy pro-gambling votes in the Alabama legislature.
Nobody else, to this point, has been indicted by the state grand jury empanelled by Strange. It’s not known if evidence is still being considered and, if so, if additional arrests will be made.
Given the length of time since the probe was launched, Sheffield questions the timing of Snellgrove’s arrest. “It’s awkward at the timing that a week before Christmas a 70 year old man (was arrested)”, he said.
Sheffield also noted that Snellgrove’s arrest came on the same day Alabama’s largest casino opened a few miles north of Montgomery. “I’m not saying there is a link but it was brought to my attention and I think its awkward timing--- you can connect the dots. It’s something interesting,” the attorney said.
Wind Creek Wetumpka , a development of the Porch Band of Creek Indians, opened a new casino and hotel that replaces a smaller facility located on the same property located about 15 miles north of Montgomery.
The Native American Tribe operates three casinos in Alabama. Country Crossing and other non-tribal casinos have not been allowed to reopen.