Durham Coach Pleads Guilty to Drug Charge
Posted July 2, 1996 7:00 a.m. EDT
DURHAM — July 3, 1996 - 10:27 a.m.EDT
A former Durham High School football coach has pleaded guilty to drug charges, and will never teach in North Carolina again.
James Lillie pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession of two controlled substances. He had faced felony drug charges.
After 22 years of teaching and coaching, Lillie was arrested in January of this year when a Durham police officer found cocaine and marijuana in the car Lillie was driving.
The former coach had insisted he was innocent for six months before making his first appearance in court Tuesday. In exchange for his guilty plea, Lillie forfeited his North Carolina teaching license and was sentenced to 12 months probation.
Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson told Lillie his conviction would have a negative impact on the community, and urged him to find a way to continue to make a contribution, perhaps by talking to young people about the dangers of drugs.
After leaving court Lillie proclaimed that he was innocent, but thought it was in his best interest to accept the plea bargain.
"There was nothing I could do with those charges hanging over my head," said Lillie. "I agreed to a plea bargain to this over with."
Lillie had led the Hillside football team to six playoffs since 1984. He was suspended from Hillside without pay in January and resigned three months later