A special prosecutor will examine Mayor Will Sessoms’ voting record for conflict-of-interest violations, and his bosses at TowneBank will pay him to stay home while they do the same.
Wednesday’s events occurred days after a Pilot investigation showed that Sessoms voted dozens of times on issues directly benefiting customers of TowneBank, where he serves as a president. Sessoms has not spoken publicly. The bank and local law enforcement announced their decisions before noon.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin Stolle recused himself before opening an investigation, citing a conflict. His brother Ken, the city’s sheriff, is on the board of TowneBank, and his wife has worked at a bank branch for four years. The Virginia Beach mayor and City Council also supplement his office’s annual budget.
“When I was made aware of the allegations involving Mayor Sessoms, I sought an ethical opinion from the Virginia State Bar based on conflicts that could arise,” Stolle said in a statement, adding the bar said it would be a violation of ethics rules “to be involved in any potential investigation. As a result, I will ask the Circuit Court to appoint a Special Prosecutor to review this matter.”
A spokesman for Virginia’s Attorney General’s Office said it is customary for Stolle to reach out to fellow commonwealth’s attorneys, one of whom would be selected and then approved by the local circuit judges.