PORTSMOUTH, Va. – Mark Whitaker is no longer a qualified candidate for reelection to the Portsmouth City Council.
According to a notice on the registrar’s website, Whitaker has been disqualified. However, because the ballots had already been printed when the office was notified of his disqualification, his name still appears on the ballot.
On Monday, the Portsmouth Circuit Court Clerk’s Office confirmed the judge has now signed the sentencing order for Whitaker, meaning his conviction is in effect and he’s suspended from serving on the council. Whitaker is planning to appeal.
Last week, a judge ruled Whitaker will not serve jail time for the three felony charges of forging a contractor’s signature, but he will still face fines for the convictions. He was found guilty in July, and jurors recommended the same sentence the judge ultimately ordered.
Whitaker originally faced 20 forgery- and fraud-related charges from allegations related to his church, New Bethel Baptist Church, in 2013 and 2014, but 17 of the charges were dismissed during the trial. He serves as an assistant pastor at the church and has always maintained his innocence.