ROANOKE, Va. – Roanoke City Council members are speaking out after Robert Jeffrey Jr. was asked to step down from his seat on council but refused.
Legally, Roanoke City Council doesn’t have the power to remove Jeffrey from office because he was elected by the citizens.
The resolution asking Jeffrey to take a leave of absence passed 6 to 0 with Jeffrey excusing himself from the vote.
Before the vote, Jeffrey said he intends to stay on council and do the job he was elected to do until his day in court.
He was indicted on two counts of felony embezzlement and two counts of felony obtaining money by false pretense from the Economic Development Authority for the City of Roanoke.
Jeffrey would only have to forfeit his seat if he is convicted and has exhausted all appeals
10 News spoke with Mayor Sherman Lea and Vice Mayor Trish White-Boyd who said it’s not personal or political, just that his presence is distracting for council members to try to do their jobs.
“It does cast that shroud over all of us because we’re on that dais with him and people think that we’re okay and we’re really not okay with these circumstances,” said White-Boyd.
“We felt we had to say something to the public that ‘Yeah, we are concerned. Yeah, we understand how it appears.’ But we can’t take any action on that legally,” said Lea.
10 News reached out to Jeffrey who referred WSLS to his lawyer John Kurtin, who was unavailable for comment.
Jeffrey’s trial is set to start on March 14.