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Virginia Beach Mayor Sessoms charged: could face $500 fine/charge

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WAVY – VIRGINIA BEACH (WAVY) –  Special Prosecutor Michael Doucette announced Thursday morning that Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms faces five charges under Virginia's conflict of interest law, relating to his votes on city council that involved his former employer TowneBank.

The law has essentially two categories of charges and pivots on whether a public official "knowingly" caused a conflict of interest. If so, the offender would face stiffer penalties and higher fines. Sessoms is charged under the lesser half of the law, which says the office holder must "disqualify oneself from participating in transactions" where the office holder or his/her employer would benefit.

In Sessoms' case, he would face a maximum fine of $500 per violation if convicted, no threat of jail time, and would likely remain in office.

The charges stem from votes Sessoms cast beginning in April 2011 on projects associated with Emmanuel Episcopal Church, the 25th Street Project, and Madison Landing LLC. Sessoms was president of TowneBank when those three entities were bank customers.

Doucette told WAVY.com Thursday that Sessoms violated the Virginia COIA by failing to make necessary public disclosures before voting on these projects.

Watch Thursday's news conference in its entirety below: