Former South Pittsburg, Tenn., mayor Mike Killian pleads guilty

Former South Pittsburg, Tenn., mayor Mike Killian pleads guilty

September 14th, 2013 by Ben Benton in Local Regional News

Mike Killian

Photo by Ben Benton/Times Free Press.

Former South Pittsburg, Tenn., mayor Mike Killian and another man face a Jan. 9, 2014, sentencing date after they pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Thursday to charges of operating an illegal gambling business.

Killian, 56, and co-defendant Robert Barry Cole, 53, appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Curtis Collier to enter guilty pleas to charges that carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000, a $100 special assessment and three years term of probation, according to federal officials.

Killian -- mayor of South Pittsburg from 2005 to 2012 -- and Cole were arrested after an FBI raid at the Lotto Mart store in South Pittsburg on Jan. 15, according to newspaper archives. Agents also searched the Lil Store and the Richard City Food Market, both in Marion County.

Killian ran a gambling operation with video gambling machines and an "outlaw" lottery in which people placed illegal bets on legal state lotteries, federal officials said. Killian also ran a betting ring in partnership with Cole, who received sports bets, collected wagers and paid off winnings, federal officials said.

Killian and Cole split proceeds of the operation.

According to plea documents, Killian must forfeit 12 video gambling machines, four computers and $38,475 in cash. Cole must give up $19,020 in cash, two computers and a ring appraised at $17,500 seized at his home.

Mike Little, Cole's attorney, said Friday that any issues regarding restitution or similar matters will be determined at sentencing. Killian's attorney, Lee Davis, did not respond to a request for comment.

U.S. Attorney Bill Killian recused his office from the case because he is Mike Killian's brother. Federal trial attorneys Mark Angehr, Barak Cohen and Peter Sprung, of the Criminal Division's Public Integrity Section, handled the prosecution.