Lakin admits to sexual abuse in plea agreement
Steve Korris Oct. 25, 2011, 12:14pm
Lakin Law Firm founder Tom Lakin admitted in court that he committed sexual abuse on a 15 year old boy, and he confirmed a plea agreement requiring him to register as a sex offender when he completes a prison sentence on cocaine distribution charges.
Lakin did not plead guilty, but he submitted a stipulation of facts similar to a guilty plea at a hearing on Oct. 25.
He accepted a six year sentence that will run concurrently with a six year sentence he currently serves at a federal prison in Texas.
Upon his release, he must remain under court supervision for two years.
He must pay $4,000 in restitution to the Madison County sheriff.
Circuit Judge Charles Romani asked him, "Is that what you negotiated?"
Lakin said, "Yes it is."
His charcoal suit and carefully styled silver hair suggested past prestige, but his posture and tone indicated weariness.
He pleaded guilty in federal court in 2008, to cocaine possession, distribution to a person under 21, and maintaining drug involved premises.
In exchange for his plea, federal prosecutors dropped sex charges that could have carried life sentences.
Madison County State's Attorney William Mudge, now a circuit judge, opened an investigation of sex charges in 2006 but recused himself.
Illinois Appellate Prosecutor Charles Colburn took charge and persisted for five years.
Colburn announced a plea agreement on Oct. 24.
He filed a felony complaint alleging that from April 2005 to October 2005, Lakin made contact with his mouth to the penis of Tyler Z.
At the hearing, Romani identified the victim as Tyler Zeller.
His mother, Sandra Zeller, worked for Lakin.
Romani told Lakin that by stipulating facts, he would give up his right to a trial where he could cross examine witnesses.
Romani told him a presumption of innocence would follow him throughout a trial.
Romani asked if anyone forced or threatened him, and Lakin shook his head.
Romani asked if anyone made any promise other than the negotiations, and Lakin said no.
Romani said evidence was sufficient to find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
He said Lakin could appeal but would have to withdraw the stipulation.
He remanded Lakin to the sheriff for transportation to prison.
About 25 people watched the hearing, including family and friends.
Lakin started his practice in a small office in East St. Louis and built a high profile personal injury and class action firm in Wood River.
He is set to be released from Fort Worth Federal Correctional Institution in Texas, a low security institution housing male offenders, on Nov. 30, 2012.
He was represented at the hearing by attorney Ben Allen of Grafton.