Petersburg legal battle heats up

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PETERSBURG Va (WRIC) — Petersburg’s commonwealth attorney says a city council vote to hire private lawyers for two members creates a conflict of interest.

Petersburg Mayor Samuel Parham and former mayor/current councilman Howard Myers are scheduled for a hearing in circuit court Thursday at 10 a.m. The hearing is in reference to a petition filed in January by registered voters of the third district. Many of them are members of the ‘Clean Sweep Petersburg’ group that has gathered hundreds of signatures in an effort to have Parham and Myers removed from office.

During a council meeting on February 7, council members voted in favor of using city funds to cover the mayor and councilman’s legal fees. After the meeting, Councilwoman Treska Wilson-Smith requested the opinion of Commonwealth Attorney Cassandra Conover.

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Conover issued an advisory opinion in response to Wilson-Smith’s request. The document is 11 pages long and details her concerns over the vote. Conover expressed potential violation concerns, noting the transaction would alleviate a financial burden on both men.Also, in regards to the vote,  Conover stated the video of the council meeting doesn’t show Parham or Myers making full disclosure of personal interests or disqualifying themselves from voting.

Also, in regards to the vote, Conover stated the video of the council meeting doesn’t show Parham or Myers making full disclosure of personal interests or disqualifying themselves from voting.

On Wednesday, Petersburg Attorney Joe Preston said he doesn’t agree with the commonwealth attorney’s advisory opinion. In fact, he accused her of potentially violating the State and Local Conflict of Interest Act.

Preston said Conover previously recused herself from the original case and shouldn’t have written the opinion.

8News contacted Conover’s office to verify Preston’s claims but did not hear back.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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