Former Lottery Exec Found Guilty Of Lobbying Violations
Posted October 25, 2006 9:15 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — A former lottery company executive was convicted Wednesday on two misdemeanor charges of violating state lobbying laws.
Alan Middleton, a former vice president for Scientific Games Corp., was found guilty by Judge Paul Gessner in a one-day bench trial. No jury heard the case.
Gessner sentenced Middleton to one year on probation, a $500 fine and a two-year ban from lobbying in North Carolina.
"Obviously, we're disappointed. I meant what I said in front of the judge. I don't think there was evidence Alan Middleton himself lobbied," said Middleton's attorney, David Rudolf.
Middleton lobbied state lawmakers for six weeks before registering with regulators, state prosecutors said. He also helped former Scientific Games contract worker Meredith Norris violate lobbying laws, they said.
Norris, a former aide to House Speaker Jim Black, pleaded no contest to a lobbying violation in August.
"The laws are set up so that lobbying has to be and should be above board and with a great deal of transparency. The law requires that, the public deserves that, and when that is questioned, people question the way the laws get made," prosecutor David Sherlin said.
Scientific Games ultimately lost the bid to run North Carolina's lottery to rival GTECH Corp.
Prosecutors presented e-mails Wednesday between Norris and Middleton, showing that the two were coordinating meetings with General Assembly leaders, Gov. Mike Easley and the governor's staff.
Scientific Games' attorney, Ira Raphaelson, testified that Middleton first described the work of Norris as "non-advocacy," but then later agreed that Norris' work could have been considered lobbying under North Carolina law.
"I don't think there is any doubt that Meredith Norris lobbied on behalf of Scientific Games. The real question is whether there was a knowing, willful violation of the registration requirement," Rudolf said.
Middleton and Norris were also mentioned prominently in the federal trial of former state lottery commissioner Kevin Geddings, a former Charlotte public relations consultant convicted Oct. 12 of five counts of mail fraud. Prosecutors said Geddings failed to disclose more than $250,000 in payments for work performed for Scientific Games between 2000 and 2005.
Rudolf acknowledged Middleton is considered a subject in the larger state and federal corruption investigation, but wouldn't comment further. Middleton and Norris were named as unindicted co-conspirators in the Geddings trial.