Former mayor pleads guilty to illegally selling Bristol NASCAR tickets

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The former mayor of Bristol, Va., entered a guilty plea Monday to charges related to illegally selling NASCAR tickets.

Paul Hurley, 74, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Abingdon, Va., to one count of mail fraud and one count of lying to a federal grand jury. He faces up to 25 years in federal prison for selling at least 50 NASCAR tickets provided to him free of charge for economic purposes. The value of the tickets sold by Hurley was more than $5,000.

Hurley was a member of the Board of Directors of the Bristol Utilities Authority from 2009-14. During that time, he served as chairman of Bristol’s Economic Development Committee.

Hurley claimed that tickets to the two annual NASCAR races at Bristol Motor Speedway were purchased for him by the Bristol Utilities Authority to be given to business representatives who showed an interest in relocating there. Instead, he sold the NASCAR tickets to friends, ticket scalpers and others for his personal financial benefit, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.

“Mr. Hurley abused his position of trust with the Bristol Virginia Utilities Authority for his own personal benefit and then lied to the grand jury to cover up his crimes,” U.S. Attorney Anthony P. Giorno said in a statement. “This is a sad and tragic case where an individual with a history of public service has, by his actions, forfeited his job, his reputation, his standing in the community and potentially his freedom for a few thousand dollars.’’