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Pelham officers resign after investigation

PELHAM, Ga. -- Involvement with an illegal gambling operation cost two Pelham Police Department officers their jobs, said a police department investigator.

Linda Coliman and Mary Johnson resigned their positions when the Georgia Bureau of Investigation disclosed they were working for a gambling operation next to a gasoline station in the city, said Pelham police Investigator Rod Williams.

Williams said Coliman was a police captain with 29 years of service and Johnson was a sergeant with 24 years with the police when they came under investigation after Pelham police arrested four people, one from Chicago, two from Tampa and one from Macon, for running a gambling racket.

"They were, quote, security, unquote, for the carnival booth," Williams said. "They were paid $75 or $100 and it was like the more money the crowd lost the more they made. It was like a percentage."

Williams said that the deal to have Coliman and Johnson turn in their badges and their police certification was worked out with the South Georgia Judicial Circuit District Attorney Joseph K. Mulholland.

Williams said authorities considered the officer's loss of long-held jobs would be best when weighed against the costs of a trial and the possibility of a friendly jury having sympathy for the defendants as long-time residents.

"They lost good jobs," Williams added.

A call to Mulholland, who was in court, was not immediately returned.

Billy Davis, a city councilman said rumors that more police were involved continued to circulate.

"I feel satisfied that it is all that we could do about it," Davis said. "The rumors that are out there do no one any good."

GBI Special Agent in Charge Steve Turner said that the rumors of anyone else being involved in the gambling from the police are wrong.

Police Chief Nealie McCormick first heard about the gambling by overhearing a couple people grouse about their losses, Williams said.

Williams and another officer investigated and found the gambling operators running a fixed operation where winning a Teddy Bear would allow the winner to cash the bear in for money, Williams said.