Prosecutor talks about plans to review Mayor Sessoms’ votes

(WAVY/Joel Hilton)

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) – The Commonwealth’s attorney for Lynchburg will soon travel to Virginia Beach to take a closer look at Mayor Will Sessoms’ voting record.

Special prosecutor Michael Doucette said he does not know how long it will take to review allegations first brought to light by a Virginian-Pilot investigation. According to that investigation, dozens of Sessoms’ votes on city council helped out customers of TowneBank, where Sessoms is President of Financial Services.

Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin Stolle stepped away from the case because of a conflict of interest.

“Colin Stolle is a friend of mine. I understand that he was looking for a special prosecutor and was not able to find anyone in the Tidewater area because they may have some conflicts as well,” Doucette said.

Sessoms told city council last week he would not do anything to intentionally harm or embarrass the city of Virginia Beach or TowneBank. Doucette said that would not necessarily be a legal defense.

“Based on the Conflict of Interest Act itself, there’s no requirement of intent, so intent doesn’t come into play … We’re all, as public officials, we’re all charged with knowledge of the Conflict of Interest Act, and we’re required to follow it,” Doucette said.

Intent could be a mitigating factor if Sessoms faces punishment, Doucette said.

Doucette said he will likely work with one investigator, but can ask for more help if he needs it. He said he will not only be looking for evidence that points to wrongdoing, but he will also look for any evidence that could be in Sessoms’ favor.

“You have to look at the voting records. You have to compare those with whatever banking records there might be and again, I’m going by just the limited knowledge that I have from reading a few news accounts,” Doucette said.

Sessoms is on paid administrative leave at TowneBank. He told WAVY News he has no plans to resign as mayor.

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