published Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Former South Pittsburg mayor, Mike Killian, to plead to gambling charge

Mike Killian
Mike Killian
Photo by Ben Benton.
James M. Killian indictment
James M. Killian indictment

Mike Killian, former mayor of South Pittsburg, Tenn., and wholesale fireworks dealer, can add another title to his name: federal felon.

Killian has agreed to plead guilty to a single count of illegal gambling in connection with an FBI investigation that surfaced in January when federal agents raided his Lotto Mart convenience store and carried away video poker machines.

Federal documents unsealed Wednesday allege that besides the illegal video poker machines, James Michael Killian owned a sports betting operation at least since 2005 that took in $2,000 a day. Documents also assert that, with other unnamed individuals, he ran an "outlaw" lottery, taking bets on legitimate state lotteries.

Lee Davis, Killian's attorney, said Wednesday afternoon that the former mayor has signed a plea agreement to one count of illegal gambling and is expected to make his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga in the next couple of days.

Killian could be sentenced to up to five years in prison and fined up to $250,000, Davis said.

The government also is seeking to confiscate a dozen video poker machines and more than $38,000 in cash seized in January from the Lotto Mart and his other business, Mike Killian Wholesale Fireworks.

The charge states that Killian ran the sports betting operation with an unnamed accomplice referred to as "Person A," who ran the day-to-day operation.

"From in or around 2005 to in or around January 2013," Killian "conducted, financed, managed, supervised, directed and owned an illegal gambling business" that involved "five or more persons who conducted, financed, managed, supervised, directed or owned all or part of such business," according to the charges.

Killian is the brother of Bill Killian, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

Bill Killian's office recused itself, and the charges are being handled by the Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, according to the indictment, DOJ spokeswoman Rebekah Carmichael said.

Though FBI agents also hit two other Marion County businesses during that Jan. 15 raid, Killian's was the only name on the indictment Wednesday.

FBI spokesman Marshall Stone in the Knoxville office referred questions to the Department of Justice on Wednesday.

The other businesses raided were the Lil Store, 3644 Valley View Highway in Sequatchie, Tenn., and Richard City Food Market, 308 19th St., in Richard City, Tenn.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported at the time that Nancy Hasting, of Sequatchie, Tenn., owns the property and holds the business license for the Lil Store.

The Richard City Food Market is owned by Michael and Richard Massey and sits on land owned by Delores Massey, state and county records show.

Killian was elected mayor of South Pittsburg in 2004 and served two terms. He did not seek re-election in November 2012.

He was elected to the Marion County Commission in 1980 at age 23 but lost his re-election bid in 1984. He ran again in 2002 and served one term as 1st District commissioner.

about Judy Walton...

Judy Walton has worked 25 years at the Chattanooga Times and the Times Free Press as an editor and reporter focusing on government coverage and investigations. At various times she has been an assistant metro editor, region reporter and editor, county government reporter, government-beat team leader, features editor and page designer. Originally from California, Walton was brought up in a military family and attended a dozen schools across the country. She earned a journalism degree ...

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