Portsmouth Councilman Whitaker indicted by special grand jury

Mark Whitaker (Photo: Portsmouth Police Department)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Portsmouth City Councilman Mark Whitaker has been indicted by a special grand jury on 20 felony charges, including identity fraud and forgery.

Whitaker turned himself into police Thursday afternoon. He was granted unsecured bond and was released in the evening.

According to the indictment, it appears Whitaker is accused of forging the names of three different people.

Court documents claim he forged the name of a 61-year-old woman on seven of her own checks and then tried to pass them.  Her name matches that of a woman listed as a deacon on New Bethel Baptist Church’s website. Whitaker is the assistant pastor at the church.

The court paperwork says Whitaker forged writing in the other two victims’ names. The other two victims match names of a dentist from Maryland and a local contractor from Portsmouth.

10 On Your Side is working to reach out to them to confirm they are victims and to learn more about their possible connections to Whitaker.

The indictment also alleges that Whitaker tried to obtain goods or services worth over $200 using someone else’s identifying information.

The dates of the alleged crimes stem back to 2013 and 2014.

10 On Your Side confirmed in March that the Portsmouth Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Treasury Department were asked to assist a special grand jury in an investigation into Whitaker’s church, New Bethel Baptist, and ties to a failed credit union. At that time, Whitaker’s attorney told WAVY News that the investigation was politically motivated by Sheriff Bill Watson.

The special grand jury met for the first time on Tuesday.

Whitaker is set to be arraigned Monday.

Stay with WAVY.com for updates on this developing story.