Local Politics

Former Lottery Commissioner Receives 4-Year Prison Term

Posted May 7, 2007 6:52 a.m. EDT
Updated May 7, 2007 5:49 p.m. EDT

— Former North Carolina lottery commissioner Kevin Geddings was sentenced Monday to four years in prison for trying to hide his ties to a lottery vendor.

Geddings, 42, was convicted in October of five counts of mail fraud. His stint on the lottery commission lasted only a month in 2005 after he failed to disclose his business ties to lottery vendor Scientific Games when he was appointed to the panel overseeing the state-run games.

Prosecutors said Geddings was trying to steer business to the company, which had paid him $250,000, but Geddings and his lawyers said it was an honest oversight.

Geddings didn't apologize in court Monday morning, saying only that he should have taken more care in filling out his state ethics disclosure form. He also asked U.S. District Judge James C. Dever III to be lenient in sentencing him, saying he needs to be with his family because he cares for his autistic teenage son and his diabetic wife.

"I ask for your mercy and your grace," Geddings told Dever.

Federal sentencing guidelines called for a sentence between 51 and 63 months in prison, but that was whittled to 33 to 41 months in prison during a Monday morning court hearing.

Prosecutors asked for a stiff sentence, however, noting Geddings is the latest in a line of state officials caught taking advantage of the public's trust.

"He still doesn't get it," Assistant U.S. Attorney Dennis Duffy said. "This is not about filling out an ethics form. This is about a violation of the public trust."

"It was about a scheme to hide his ties to Scientific Games to get on the lottery commission to get the power of being a commissioner and then do something illegal with it," U.S. Attorney George Holding said after the sentencing.

Dever deviated from the final recommendation, saying he found that Geddings also committed perjury during his trial last fall.

In addition to his prison term, Geddings was sentenced to two years probation and was ordered to pay a $25,000 fine.

"This is a strong signal that North Carolinians expect clean government," Holding said. "Public servants must act honestly and with integrity. It is a privilege to serve North Carolina, not an opportunity to sell influence and access."

Geddings wasn't taken into custody. He will be allowed to surrender to authorities at a later date, which wasn't set Monday, to begin his sentence.

Other public figures convicted in the past year include:

  • Former House Speaker Jim Black, who appointed Geddings to the lottery commission, has pleaded guilty to state and federal charges of bribery and accepting illegal campaign contributions. His scheduling has been delayed indefinitely, pending an effort to remove the judge overseeing his case.
  • Former Forsyth County lawmaker Michael Decker was recently sentenced to four years in prison after admitting he accepted a bribe to switch parties in 2003, a move that kept Black in power as House Speaker.
  • Black's former political director Meredith Norris was found guilty of violating state lobbying laws last August. She also was linked to Scientific Games and the lottery.