Former Metro East power broker Tom Lakin dies at 82

MADISON COUNTY — Tom Lakin, a once-prominent Metro East trial lawyer and Democratic Party power broker later sentenced to prison on federal drug charges, died Monday at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. He was 82. 

Lakin, who headed the influential Lakin Law Firm in Wood River, established himself by the 1990s as one of the top attorneys in the metro area, winning millions of dollars in class action and personal injury claims.

Before his fall from grace, he was a major donor to local, state and national Democratic candidates and a member of the Democratic National Committee.

He toured China with then-U.S. Sen. Paul Simon and sat next to then-President Bill Clinton at a St. Louis fundraising event in 1996.

But in 2008, Lakin pleaded guilty to possession with the intent to deliver cocaine, distributing cocaine to a person under 21 and maintaining a drug-involved premises.

In 2011, he pleaded no contest to a state charge of aggravated criminal sexual abuse related to the earlier case but was given no additional prison time beyond his six-year federal sentence.

Lakin, the son of a construction worker who died when Lakin was 16, was a football star at Roxana High School and earned a bachelor’s degree at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville while working a night shift as a Madison County sheriff’s deputy.

He got his law degree from the University of Louisville and got his first job with a law firm in East Alton. He founded the Wood River firm in 1980 with David Herndon, who later became a federal judge.

He also was a co-founder of the casino formerly known as the Alton Belle.

Visitation will be from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at Paynic Home for Funerals, 618 East Airline Drive in the Rosewood Heights area.  A funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Monday at the funeral home, with burial at Woodland Hill Cemetery near East Alton.

Among the survivors are four children, Bradley Lakin, Kristopher Lakin, Karey Lakin and Kyra Lakin, and six grandchildren.

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December 15, 2022 at 04:49PM

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