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Four of five charges against Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms dismissed

Posted at 11:26 AM, Dec 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-28 17:33:25-05

Virginia Beach, Va. - Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms accepted a plea agreement Monday for the five charges he faced for violating the state's conflict of interest law.

As part of the plea agreement, four of the five charges were dismissed and Sessoms pleaded "no contest" to the remaining charge.  He also must pay $1,000 to the Virginia Coalition for Open Government.

At a press conference following the conclusion of his hearing, Sessoms said he would never intentionally harm the people of Virginia Beach, but acknowledges he did make a mistake.

"I am humbled to be the mayor of the greatest city in the entire world and will strive with renewed energy to do the best job I can for the greatest people in the world, the citizens of Virginia Beach," he said.

This investigation was launched after a Virginian Pilot investigation claimed Sessoms cast dozens of votes involving TowneBank clients without acknowledging a potential conflict of interest.

NewsChannel 3 asked the mayor about the investigation back in January and he denied any wrongdoing.

"The truth is, there's an investigation going on, but nothing has been found to this date that I've done wrong. I'm just moving forward and doing the job as mayor and loving every minute of it," he said.

Earlier this year, Sessoms told NewsChannel 3 that he launched his own investigation which he says cleared his name.

"Clearly I have done nothing wrong. The independent investigation shows clearly. So the bottom line is we just wait to see if anything comes from their investigation. If there is, we will respond accordingly," he said. "We had a lot of people do a lot of research and homework, the bottom line is I love the city of Virginia Beach and I would never ever do anything to the betterment for me or the TowneBank customers. Period. No way in the world."

Sessoms said Monday he is relieved to have the court hearing over.

“I feel like I’ve had a ton of bricks taken off my chest,” he said, "technically I made a mistake and I'm admitting that but I did not do one thing to benefit myself or my employer by that vote."
The Mayor used to be a president of TowneBank and said 14 months ago he didn't know the bank was involved in a rezoning issue that he was voting for. 
“I did not look further for the developers name, but even that would not have told me which bank the developer would be using.  I did not go further and this lead to the error of which I admit…  If I could do it over again I would have recuse myself from this vote or disclosed it,” said Sessoms. 
Mike Doucette, the special prosecutor in the case said, “I think it was important that there be acknowledgment of responsibility, accountability and we had that today.”
Sessoms says part of him wanted to fight the charge – but he was worried about how long the case could take in the court system.  
He has another year in office and said this has been extremely difficult on him, his family, and the city.

"I found over the past year that when your character and all you believe in and stand for is questioned several things occur. You find out who your friends are.”
NewsChannel 3 asked the Mayor if he is going to run for re-election and he said he is just trying to digest everything that’s happened and would not give us an answer either way. 

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