Philadelphia mayor resigns amid forgery case investigation

MIKE KRAFCIK 6 News Reporter

PHILADELPHIA (WATE) - The mayor of Philadelphia, Tenn. has resigned amid an investigation into a forgery case.

John Drinnon says he resigned as mayor because of his connection to one of the suspects wanted in connection with a check fraud scheme.

The Loudon County Sheriff's Office says they've found at least 8 fraudulent checks bearing what appears to be the mayor's signature.

Rodney Vite, 21, of Oak Ridge, and Allisandra Gates, 25, of Lenoir City, have been arrested and pleaded guilty to forgery. A warrant has been issued for a third person, Rustin Key.

Investigators say the forged checks totaled more than $5,000 and appeared to be signed by Philadelphia Mayor John Drinnon and City Recorder Rosie Boston.

Authorities say Rustin Key admitted to stealing the city checks which were kept in Drinnon's house.

"He worked for me and lived for me, just like a son," said Drinnon.

Drinnon says Key was a troubled youth he had taken under his wing as at Word of Faith Church in Loudon.

Drinnon says he resigned as mayor because of this connection, but did nothing wrong.

"I just felt like that with this incident that it was going to be hard to govern and have the support of the city council moving forward," said Drinnon.

Rosie Boston, the city recorder, had resigned once the fraudulent checks were discovered. According to investigators, Boston is the girlfriend of Rustin Key and had recently lived in Drinnon's church building.

"We should have done a little better background check before going with her as recorder," said Chris Miller, Philadelphia's newly appointed mayor.

Chris Miller was chosen as Drinnon's replacement. He says things will be different under his watch, since he says more attention will be paid to the city's finances.

"We were surprised very much, and we want to make sure everything is on the table," said Miller.

The sheriff's office plans to bring this case to a grand jury and says everyone with access with the city's checks will be investigated including former Mayor Drinnon.

Vite and Gates admitted to taking part in the forgery, and their case has been waived to a grand jury, according to Loudon County Sheriff's Lt. Patrick Upton.

A court date has not yet been set, both posted bond.

Lt. Upton says the state's comptroller's office is involved in the investigation and the sheriff's department may decide to call TBI to investigate.