State

Former Kentucky mayor admits using taxpayer money to help his semi-pro football team

A former Prestonsburg mayor has admitted pressuring city employees to spend taxpayer money on his semi-professional arena football team.

Jerry S. Fannin entered a plea on one count of theft last week.

Fannin said he believed he committed the crime, but could not remember details because of memory problems from strokes he suffered after he left office, but before he was indicted.

When Fannin was mayor of the Floyd County seat in 2013, he owned an interest in a football team called the Kentucky Drillers, which was based in Pikeville.

He also played on the team.

Fannin got city employees and agencies to spend money for donations or advertising for the benefit of the team, according to his plea agreement.

He also used a city-owned bus to take the team to away games and directed the city to spend money at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park that he said was to finance repairs, but was actually for rooms for team members, the plea document said.

The money diverted to benefit the team totaled $7,800, the indictment said.

Fannin is scheduled to be sentenced in August.

The maximum sentence would be 10 years.

However, if the advisory sentencing range for Fannin is as the low end of the guidelines, as expected, federal prosecutors will not oppose Fannin’s request for probation, the plea document said.

The plea deal calls for Fannin to pay restitution to the city.

Fannin left office after 2014.

The charges against him grew from a state audit that identified problems in addition to city money being spent on the football team, including a conflict of interest Fannin had on a land deal that then-Auditor Adam Edelen said netted him $97,000 for Fannin.

The federal indictment dealt only with improper spending to benefit the football team, which no longer exists.

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