PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WVEC) -- The trial of Councilman Mark Whitaker is scheduled to take place in November.
Whitaker faces charges of Identity Fraud, Forgery, and Uttering (passing) of a Forged Check.
Whitaker's attorney, Don Scott, appeared in court Monday to go on record as counsel for the councilman. Whitaker, himself, did not appear in court.
A special grand jury indicted Whitaker on April 20. The charges stemmed from an investigation into activities and the finances of a company, church, and defunct federal credit union to which Whitaker has ties.
The special grand jury began its investigation on April 18.
Scott explained Monday that his client was not required by law to be at the proceeding.
Through his lawyer, Whitaker provided a written statement:
"First, I want to thank all of the people in the city of Portsmouth and around the state and nation who have contacted me and prayed with me and provided words of encouragement. I am grateful to my wife and family who are unwavering in their support of me. So far, there has been only one side of the story told exclusively by the prosecutor to the Special Grand Jury with no opportunity for me to defend myself. On advice of counsel, I am unable to discuss this case and the circumstances of the charges publicly. However, I look forward to vigorously defending my name and I am confident that I will be found innocent.I have school age children in my home and I am still actively assisting my father as a Pastor at our church, I respectfully request that the media not come to my home or our place of worship. I will continue to do what is right for the city in which I was raised and love."
Whitaker can continue serving as a councilman while the case proceeds.
On Monday night, he showed up to a public work session. For the first time since the indictment, he spoke publicly, but said he couldn't go into specifics about the charges.
"There's a time and a season for everything and this is not the appropriate arena nor forum to address on the advice of my counsel," said Whitaker.
Instead of addressing the charges further, he took the opportunity thank those who are supporting him.
"I've been receiving support from throughout the community, across the Hampton Roads region, throughout the state and across the nation," he said.
Most of his colleagues, including Mayor John Rowe, remained silent about the charges. However, Councilwoman Lisa Lucas-Burke spoke to 13News Now about the charges.
"I was surprised. I was as surprised as any of you standing here. We had no idea, just didn't know what was going on," she said.
She believes the judicial process will bring out truth and right now, just hoping the best for her colleague.
She thinks Whitaker should speak publicly if he truly believes he's done nothing wrong.
Online court records show the trial will begin on November 13. Whitaker could be arraigned then, pending motions.