Pastor pleads guilty to exotic animals charge


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT/WYMT)-- A Middlesboro snake handling pastor is now back home in Kentucky after agreeing to a plea deal in East Tennessee.

Pastor Gregory Coots, also known as Jamie, was in court Monday hoping he would return home with five snakes that were confiscated by TWRA.

The fight began last month during a traffic stop while he was traveling through Knoxville. Pastor Coots was on his way back to Middlesboro, Kentucky from Alabama when police pulled him over and noticed five venomous snakes. That's when TWRA stepped in and confiscated them.

"It's kind of frustrating especially paying $800 for the snakes," Coots said. "But it was my fault, I didn't know the laws in Tennessee."

Coots was in court February 11 fighting for his religious beliefs. But a decision couldn't be reached.

He agreed to a plea deal on Monday and forfeited the snakes, but didn't give up on the boxes the snakes were being transported in.

"Getting the boxes back was my main priority, and the Lord blessed that that happened today," he said.

Coots will serve one year probation.

As for the snakes, they remain at the Rainforest Adventure Zoo in Sevierville, Tennessee but are expected to be transported to Texas sometime in March.


PINEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT/WKYT) - A Bell County pastor pleads guilty to violating the exotic animals law in Tennessee.

Pastor Gregory Coots handles snakes as part of his worship service.

He was driving back from Alabama with the snakes when he was stopped by police in Tennessee and they saw the snakes.

Coots was sentenced to probation and had to forfeit the snakes.

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station. powered by Disqus