Former Anderson County Commission Chairman and retired Anderson County school teacher Mike Cox was indicted last week on a charge of theft over $60,000, as officials accused him of stealing around $100,000 from the tiny Rocky Top church where he served as treasurer since 1976. The 66-year-old Cox turned himself in at the Anderson County Jail on Thursday, was booked and released after posting a $75,000 bond.
He is accused of using debit cards and checks belonging to Longfield Baptist Church to pay for gambling junkets in Cherokee, North Carolina as well to pay bills and other personal expenses between June of 2011 and December of 2014, when other church leaders noticed that the checking account for the church had dwindled to almost nothing despite having been left some $96,000 in the will of a church member.
He reportedly confessed what he had done to other church officials and told the News-Sentinel that he has tried to make restitution, but refused a chance to confess his alleged crimes to the full congregation.
Cox served on the County Commission for 28 years, including four stints as Commission Chair, before he was defeated in a re-election bid. He also spent 36 years as a teacher at Lake City Middle School.
He will be arraigned in Criminal Court on February 29th. If convicted, he could face 8 to 12 years behind bars as a first-time offender.