Plea Deal for Illegal Poker Game Cops in Tennessee FBI Bust

Posted on November 10th, 2014 by Alana Markoff
Robbie Flood Tennessee FBI bust

Ex-Knox County Deputy Sheriff Robbie Flood pleaded guilty to violating the Hobbs Act by using his position to help protect an illegal poker game. (Image: Knox County Sheriff’s office)

Former Deputy Sheriff Robbie Flood of the Knox County Sherrif’s Office (KCSO) is just one of several illegal poker game cops who have pleaded guilty to a 2009 case of an FBI sting on an alleged illegal game.

Flood has allegedly admitted to his role in protecting an illegal poker game, one that ultimately was a ruse designed to catch the officers covering up illegal activity. As a part of the plea deal, five others have now been indicted in relation with the 2009 federal gaming bust that took place in East Tennessee.

According to information from the plea agreement, Flood was asked back in 2009 by a fellow KCSO deputy, Samuel T. Hardy, if he would like to make money by acting as security and escorting money for a clandestine high-stakes poker game taking place in Knoxville. Flood agreed to take part, and went with Hardy to meet with a man who was supposedly organizing the game.

Undercover FBI Agents Convince Cops to Protect Game

In reality, that man was an undercover FBI agent. He told the deputies that they would be responsible for protecting the significant amount of cash that was going to be in play during the game. Flood went along with the plan, even saying that he would drive his official sheriff’s vehicle and remain in uniform while doing the job.

The undercover agent warned them, as well as a third participating deputy, Jimmy Douglas, that the game would be illegal, but they still agreed to help.

On November 13, the “game” was held, with nine FBI agents posing as the players for the game. Each brought $100,000 to play with and an additional $10,000 in cash to cover fees to the game. The officers split the money into two $500,000 shipments, and transported them to two separate hotels in vehicles owned by the undercover FBI agents, all while being escorted by the deputies.

The officers then went to the game as it was played at a Knoxville apartment.

For their trouble, the officers picked up their payments a few days ahead of the game. Hardy and Douglas were each paid $500, while Flood negotiated up to $550, purportedly to help him pay for gas while he was on escort duty.

Pleads Guilty to Hobbs Act Violations

The events of that night ultimately led to charges against Flood, who pleaded guilty to violating the Hobbs Act. Essentially, he admitted to using his position as a law enforcement officer to help promote illegal activity that “did affect, would have affected, or had a realistic probability of affecting interstate commerce.”

“The defendant admits that he knowingly accepted money not lawfully due to him in exchange for his official acts,” the plea agreement states. “That is, he used his position to protect and facilitate purported illegal gambling in exchange for the receipt of a cash payment.”

Flood could potentially face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for his crime, though that seems likely to be reduced due to his guilty plea.

Five More Officers Indicted

In the wake of Flood’s plea deal, five other officers have also been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges related to the FBI operation. They include Douglas and Hardy, both of whom are also deputies with the KCSO, as well as former University of Tennessee police officer Robert E. Cummings, former TVA police officer Benito D. Lopez, and Pigeon Forge Police Department detective David L. Joyner.

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