- Associated Press - Monday, December 28, 2015

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) - Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms pleaded no contest on Monday to a misdemeanor charge of violating the state’s Conflict of Interest Act.

Under a plea agreement, four other misdemeanor conflict of interest charges were dismissed. As part of the agreement, Sessoms donated $1,000 to the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, multiple media outlets reported.

Following the hearing in Virginia Beach General District Court, Sessoms said at a news conference that he will complete his term as mayor.

“I feel like I’ve had a ton of bricks taken off my chest,” Sessoms said.

“The only positive in this entire affair is the fair mindedness and support I have received from our citizens during the past year,” he said.

The charges stemmed from five votes cast by Sessoms that benefited borrowers of Towne Bank, where he formerly served as president. The Virginian-Pilot reported last year that Sessoms had voted dozens of times on issues that benefited clients of the bank.

The votes involved projects associated with the Emmanuel Episcopal Church, the 25th Street Project and Madison Landing LLC, all entities that Doucette had said were customers of TowneBank while Sessoms was the president of the bank. The five votes were cast between 2011 and 2014.

The charge to which Sessoms pleaded involved his vote on the Madison Landing project, which he said was a mistake. He said was unaware of the project’s relationship with Towne Bank.

“It is important that you know that every ounce of my being is dedicated to making Virginia Beach the best it can be every day of the year with integrity and honor,” he said.

The Virginian-Pilot investigation found that the mayor voted on agenda items at least 60 times involving developers, businesses and individuals who received TowneBank loans. Doucette had said he was either unable to find sufficient evidence for criminal prosecution in connection with the other votes or the five-year statute of limitations had expired.

Sessoms resigned from the bank in December 2014 after its policies were changed to prohibit senior management from holding elective office.

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