RICHMOND - The special prosecutor appointed to investigation allegations Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms violated state conflict of interest laws says his investigation will likely last through the spring.
Michael Doucette, who is the Commonwealth's Attorney in Lynchburg, was appointed to investigate Sessoms last month after Virginia Beach Commonwealth's Attorney Collin Stolle recused himself.
The investigation comes after a Virginian-Pilot article found Sessoms took dozens of votes as mayor that benefited clients of his at TowneBank. Sessoms worked as the president of a division of TowneBank until he was placed on paid administrative leave following the Pilot's investigation.
Doucette said his investigation cannot begin in earnest until Attorney General Mark Herring clears the way for the Virginia State Police to assist him.
"It's gonna be a lot of paperwork, no question about it," Doucete said Thursday in an exclusive interview with 13News Now. "That's why it's going to be helpful to have the assistance of the Virginia State Police to gather those documents."
Once a VSP investigator is assigned to assist Doucette, the prosecutor said he will begin gather and reviewing the thousands of pages of documents, votes and city council minutes to determine whether or not Sessoms violated the state's conflict of interest laws.
"I'll be looking to see what the transaction were and, basically, if there was a connection--and I've got to stress the if--and if there was a connection between a transaction and a vote then what was mayor Sessoms' duty at the time?" Doucette explained. "Sometimes under the conflict of interest act the required action is one of abstaining from a vote. Many times, one doesn't have to abstain from a vote, they just have to say [they] have a particular interest in [the] transaction."
Doucette said he expects his investigation to last at least through March. He will also continue serving as the Commonwealth's Attorney in Lynchburg and the prosecutor said he expects to be involved with the General Assembly session that will convene in January.
"Obviously, the public wants a resolution as quickly as possible. I'm sure the Virginia Beach city council would like a resolution as soon as possible," he said. "The competing interest, of course, is to do as thorough an examination and as fair an examination as possible."
Sessoms has denied doing anything wrong. He and his attorneys have also begun their own review of his votes to determine whether or not he broke the law.