Portsmouth Mayor Kenny Wright arrested on felony eluding charges

Posted at 11:07 PM, Jan 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-14 21:02:42-05

Portsmouth, Va. - A simple traffic violation turned into an out of control situation in Portsmouth and now Mayor Kenny Wright is facing a felony charge.

Sheriff Bill Watson and Mayor Wright have disliked each other for some time; however, the events that unfolded Tuesday night are described by some as bizarre.

Mayor Kenny Wright left the Portsmouth jail after being booked, accused of eluding the Sheriff Tuesday evening. The Mayor was silent, but smiled as he walked out.

"The Mayor is not a criminal. He was in no way trying to elude the Sheriff," said Mayor Wright's AtKenneth Wrighttorney Michael Massie.

There's been tension between the Sheriff and the Mayor since the Sheriff's budget was cut significantly.

"I'm tired of the mayor trying to run the city like he is a God. He was elected not anointed. He needs to understand that," said Portsmouth Sheriff Bill Watson.

It happened last night after an emotionally charged meeting where Councilman Bill Moody received a fine for $1,500.

Sheriff Watson said he was talking to a friend when he realized there was a black Mercedes with an expired inspection sticker.

"I'll be the first one to admit, I got a woody when I saw that sticker on his car, I sure did," said Sheriff Watson.

The Sheriff said he pulled the Mayor over.

"He said, 'Sheriff get out of here.' Really? And he pulls off I thought, the man's lost his mind.”

The Sheriff said he turned on his lights and followed the mayor through Olde Towne.

They started at City Hall and it ended near the intersection of High Street and Effingham.

"He said, 'I've got the Chief on the phone'. I said I don't give a damn who you've got on the phone, I don't work for the Chief,” said Watson.

Massie said he told Wright not to talk about what happened.

He explained why the mayor had a big grin on his face when he left the jail.

"What would you have him do? He's a man. He's not going to walk out of the jail and cry, I'm just being serious with you. He is supposed to have a smile on his face. He's not defeated. This is still United States of America, the best country of the world in the world and he is presumed innocent and we plan to prove that," said Massie.

The inspection sticker was overdue by seven months, according to the Sheriff.

The mayor's attorney said Wright was set up and that he told his client to get his sticker up to date, but admits this has been embarrassing for the mayor.

The next court hearing is January 29th.