Greene Co. Commission Chair responds to allegations by Supreme County Justice Glenn Murdock on bingo

 

Shown above L to R Greene Co. Commission Chair William Johnson and AL Supreme Court Justice Glenn Murdock
Greene County Commisson Chair William Johnson released the following statement this week.
“This press release is in response to the statement released by Justice Glenn Murdock regarding his employment as the attorney for the Greene County Commission,” said Johnson. “I disagree with Justice Murdock’s account of the extent of his dealings with the Greene County Commission as it pertains to his involvement with attempting to implement gaming in Greene County via Powerhouse Technologies.”
Murdock denies that he played any significant part in trying to implement gambling in Greene County, saying, “I have received no motion to recuse myself from any of the cases addressed by this Court over the past year relating to gambling generally and bingo in particular. Nonetheless, press reports in recent days have raised questions relating to my representation of Greene County as an attorney before being elected to the bench. 
“I know of no basis for me to have recused in any of the cases that have come before this Court. Because I have yet to receive any request for recusal, but as an elected official have been subjected to inaccurate assertions in published reports, I choose to issue the following disclosure statement regarding the performance of my duties and procedures applicable thereto.
“In 1998 and 1999, 11 to 12 years ago and some seven to eight years before being elected to this Court, I served as county attorney for Greene County. In this role, I provided counsel to the County on a wide variety of matters that presented themselves in the normal course of county business. None of the matters as to which I provided counsel are or have been at issue in any case in which I have participated as a member of this Court.
“I represented Greene County in negotiations concerning the terms of a lease by which Greene County was attempting to receive a fair rent for its one-half ownership interest in the event Greenetrack’s negotiations with the out-of-state firm came to fruition and video gaming was thereafter legalized. As I recall, however, my representation of Greene County ended before such a lease was finalized,” said Murdock.
He also insists, “More specifically, at no time did I ever draft or assist in the drafting of any proposed constitutional amendment that would have legalized “bingo” in any form in Greene County or any other county. The constitutional amendment that now governs the playing of bingo in Greene County was proposed and voted upon in 2003, some four years after my service to Greene County ended and some three years after I was elected to the Court of Civil Appeals. At no time during my service to Greene County do I recall any discussions with anyone regarding such an amendment.”
Johnson refutes Murdock’s statement, insisting that the attorney did indeed try to secure not only the 1/2 interest in the physical facility for the county, but also 1/2 of the proceeds of any gaming which occurred there.
“I do not know the exact details of conversations between the former Chair of the Greene County Commission Chip Beeker and, then, Attorney Murdock as they were mostly done without the knowledge of the entire Commission and specifically, me, but in my research I was able to find documents involving Justice Murdock:
“On January 27th, 1999, Attorney Murdock wrote a letter to Commissioner Donald Means stating that the letter’s purpose was to provide him with a history and status report regarding the Greenetrack/Powerhouse negotiations.  The letter is very detailed and goes so far as to refer to a written proposal that was prepared and forwarded to the Powerhouse attorneys on January 8, 1999 outlining the general framework for an agreement which would give Powerhouse the right to operate various gambling enterprises (other than pari-mutuel betting) on Greenetrack property.”
Johnson said “This letter also referenced a report that was issued on December 18, 1998, by the State Department of Examiners of Public Accounts as to its review of the compliance of Greene County with applicable laws and regulations during a three year period ending September 1997.  He included in this letter information found on the second page of the report where a brief note stated ‘there appears to be no legal authority for the county to own and operate such an enterprise [as Greenetrack].’
“On April 20, 1999, Attorney Glen Murdock wrote a letter to Ryan (deGraffenried) and Tommy (Holley) of Watson, deGraffenreid & Holley regarding the Greene County Commission’s position as the co-owner of the Greenetrack property and facility stating that the county had a rightful stake in any arrangement which would allow video gambling or other non-parimutuel gambling operations at the facility….and  indicating that we were disappointed to learn that Powerhouse had proceeded with negotiations between itself and Greenetrack without involving the county.
“Additionally, I discovered a lease agreement prepared by Attorney Murdock disguising monthly profit payments as rent payments.
“Further research produced an April 1999 invoice specifically indicating that Murdock had reviewed gaming legislation.
“Because of the importance of this matter, I felt that it was important to go a step further in seeking out the truth. Therefore, several weeks ago, I wrote a letter to Wallace, Jordan, Ratcliff & Brandt, the firm for which Murdock was employed during this period (June 1998 until termination), requesting that Murdock’s billing records for the Greene County Commission be released to me.
According to Johnson, their response included all legal papers of work pertaining to Greenetrack, including a $6,081 bill from the law firm for which Murdock worked that the county paid as of March of 1999 for legal work dealing with Greenetrack and the county. 
In  a letter dated January 27, 1999, Murdock wrote the commission advising them “We have researched this issue, there appears to be no prohibition in Alabama law against a county owning interest in real property on which otherwise legal  gambling activities are conducted.”
In another letter which Murdock wrote to his law firm on April 20, 1999, he advised them that he felt the county deserved a percentage of the profits at Greenetrack. 
The aforementioned correspondance indicates that at that point in time, Murdock was very much in favor of legalized bingo and his only problem was that the county did not receive as much as he felt they should as 1/2 owners of the Greenetrack facility.
As to Murdock’s dismissal as county attorney, Commissioner Donald Means explained,  “He was our attorney, “but his fee was very high and we simply could not afford him. We were in bankruptcy and we were  paying him $100,000 per year 12 years ago just  to look over our shoulder.”

Greene County Commisson Chair William Johnson released the following statement this week.“This press release is in response to the statement released by Justice Glenn Murdock regarding his employment as the attorney for the Greene County Commission,” said Johnson. “I disagree with Justice Murdock’s account of the extent of his dealings with the Greene County Commission as it pertains to his involvement with attempting to implement gaming in Greene County via Powerhouse Technologies.”Murdock denies that he played any significant part in trying to implement gambling in Greene County, saying, “I have received no motion to recuse myself from any of the cases addressed by this Court over the past year relating to gambling generally and bingo in particular. Nonetheless, press reports in recent days have raised questions relating to my representation of Greene County as an attorney before being elected to the bench. “I know of no basis for me to have recused in any of the cases that have come before this Court. Because I have yet to receive any request for recusal, but as an elected official have been subjected to inaccurate assertions in published reports, I choose to issue the following disclosure statement regarding the performance of my duties and procedures applicable thereto.“In 1998 and 1999, 11 to 12 years ago and some seven to eight years before being elected to this Court, I served as county attorney for Greene County. In this role, I provided counsel to the County on a wide variety of matters that presented themselves in the normal course of county business. None of the matters as to which I provided counsel are or have been at issue in any case in which I have participated as a member of this Court.“I represented Greene County in negotiations concerning the terms of a lease by which Greene County was attempting to receive a fair rent for its one-half ownership interest in the event Greenetrack’s negotiations with the out-of-state firm came to fruition and video gaming was thereafter legalized. As I recall, however, my representation of Greene County ended before such a lease was finalized,” said Murdock.He also insists, “More specifically, at no time did I ever draft or assist in the drafting of any proposed constitutional amendment that would have legalized “bingo” in any form in Greene County or any other county. The constitutional amendment that now governs the playing of bingo in Greene County was proposed and voted upon in 2003, some four years after my service to Greene County ended and some three years after I was elected to the Court of Civil Appeals. At no time during my service to Greene County do I recall any discussions with anyone regarding such an amendment.”Johnson refutes Murdock’s statement, insisting that the attorney did indeed try to secure not only the 1/2 interest in the physical facility for the county, but also 1/2 of the proceeds of any gaming which occurred there.“I do not know the exact details of conversations between the former Chair of the Greene County Commission Chip Beeker and, then, Attorney Murdock as they were mostly done without the knowledge of the entire Commission and specifically, me, but in my research I was able to find documents involving Justice Murdock:“On January 27th, 1999, Attorney Murdock wrote a letter to Commissioner Donald Means stating that the letter’s purpose was to provide him with a history and status report regarding the Greenetrack/Powerhouse negotiations.  The letter is very detailed and goes so far as to refer to a written proposal that was prepared and forwarded to the Powerhouse attorneys on January 8, 1999 outlining the general framework for an agreement which would give Powerhouse the right to operate various gambling enterprises (other than pari-mutuel betting) on Greenetrack property.”Johnson said “This letter also referenced a report that was issued on December 18, 1998, by the State Department of Examiners of Public Accounts as to its review of the compliance of Greene County with applicable laws and regulations during a three year period ending September 1997.  He included in this letter information found on the second page of the report where a brief note stated ‘there appears to be no legal authority for the county to own and operate such an enterprise [as Greenetrack].’“On April 20, 1999, Attorney Glen Murdock wrote a letter to Ryan (deGraffenried) and Tommy (Holley) of Watson, deGraffenreid & Holley regarding the Greene County Commission’s position as the co-owner of the Greenetrack property and facility stating that the county had a rightful stake in any arrangement which would allow video gambling or other non-parimutuel gambling operations at the facility….and  indicating that we were disappointed to learn that Powerhouse had proceeded with negotiations between itself and Greenetrack without involving the county.“Additionally, I discovered a lease agreement prepared by Attorney Murdock disguising monthly profit payments as rent payments.“Further research produced an April 1999 invoice specifically indicating that Murdock had reviewed gaming legislation.“Because of the importance of this matter, I felt that it was important to go a step further in seeking out the truth. Therefore, several weeks ago, I wrote a letter to Wallace, Jordan, Ratcliff & Brandt, the firm for which Murdock was employed during this period (June 1998 until termination), requesting that Murdock’s billing records for the Greene County Commission be released to me.According to Johnson, their response included all legal papers of work pertaining to Greenetrack, including a $6,081 bill from the law firm for which Murdock worked that the county paid as of March of 1999 for legal work dealing with Greenetrack and the county. In  a letter dated January 27, 1999, Murdock wrote the commission advising them “We have researched this issue, there appears to be no prohibition in Alabama law against a county owning interest in real property on which otherwise legal  gambling activities are conducted.”In another letter which Murdock wrote to his law firm on April 20, 1999, he advised them that he felt the county deserved a percentage of the profits at Greenetrack. The aforementioned correspondance indicates that at that point in time, Murdock was very much in favor of legalized bingo and his only problem was that the county did not receive as much as he felt they should as 1/2 owners of the Greenetrack facility.As to Murdock’s dismissal as county attorney, Commissioner Donald Means explained,  “He was our attorney, “but his fee was very high and we simply could not afford him. We were in bankruptcy and we were  paying him $100,000 per year 12 years ago just  to look over our shoulder.”

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