Former Country Crossing lobbyist Jarrod Massey walked out of the Montgomery jail Wednesday. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson released the admitted felon pending sentencing on April 12, 2012.
Sporting a beard and sunglasses, Massey was greeted by hugs from his wife, parents and friends outside the jail. He has spent most of his seven and a half months in jail in a Lee County.
Massey was behind bars at his own request. He pleaded guilty last December to bribery and conspiracy charges in the Alabama bingo corruption case. Then, in a highly unusual move, Massey asked the judge to be put in jail, even though he had not been sentenced.
Thompson granted the request and Massey began serving his sentence January 19, a sentence still yet to be determined.
During his hearing Wednesday, Thompson heard the arguments from Massey’s lawyers and prosecutors.
Attorney Joseph Basgier says his client discovered life jail was a lot tougher than he expected. “He is terrified to talk to anyone on the phone, including his family. His family’s financial condition continues to deteriorate and he would like to find employment to help support them.”
Basgier says Massey has tax problems, his business is almost destroyed and it is making life difficult for his family. He also complained that Massey did not know his jailhouse conversations with everyone, including his family, would be recorded. Basgier calls it “heartbreaking” attorneys heard those conversations and played some of them in court.
“We knew going into this, that Jarrod was going to be a very important witness,” Basgier told reporters after the hearing. “We knew that his cross examination was going to be brutal. But, I think what transpired probably exceed everyone’s expectations.”
Prosecutors filed court papers asking Thompson to keep Massey in jail.
“A defendant should not be able to come and go as he pleases,” prosecutor Justin Shur told the court during the hearing.
As one of the key witnesses during the trial, Massey often taunted lawyers with sarcastic remarks and was even admonished by the judge to apologize to jurors. He told the court he expected to be sentenced to time served and be home by Thanksgiving.
Massey admitted he offered millions of dollars in bribes to legislators.
Shur told the court it was expensive processing prisoners into and out of the penal system. “He should not be able to say ‘I want to go in’ and ‘I want to go out,’” Shur explained. “A defendant should not be able to come and go as he pleases.”
Shur did agree with Thompson that Massey had met the pre-trial qualifications for release.
Massey’s release was granted contingent on several factors set out by Judge Thompson. He must find a job, avoid criminal activity, and not leave the state for any reason without permission from the court.
Massey could be called to the stand for any subsequent re-trail of the seven remaining defendants in the bingo corruption case. The judge has set a tentative trial date of January 9 in the case.