RICHMOND, Va. – More than 600 city emails obtained by CBS 6 show that Mayor Dwight Jones’ head of Richmond’s Public Works was kept up to speed on virtually every step of construction on Jones’ new $5 million church.
The documents back up city auditor Umesh Dalal’s recent investigation, which found that Emmanuel Adediran worked on the church project during regular business hours.
CBS 6 filed a Freedom of Information Act request for all emails sent or received by Adediran, which pertained to the construction of Jones’ under construction First Baptist Church, located on Ironbridge Road in Chesterfield County.
The correspondence included 600 emails, dating from July of 2014 to December 2015, all addressed to Adediran’s official city email address.
Jones had been also copied on numerous emails.
The emails reflect conversation between the church officials in charge of the $5.3 million dollar project; developers, contractors, an architect, suppliers, and county engineers.
The emails reference weekly conference calls and construction meetings to discuss every aspect of the church project that include inspections, utilities, audio and visual equipment.
Shortly after the city auditor’s report was released, the mayor’s office said that Adediran would exchange 38 hours of vacation time to remove any concern.
Selena Cuffee-Glenn, Chief Administrative Officer, said on record in early January that Adediran assured the city “that he only used personal time for matters unrelated to city business.”
A Virginia State Police review – requested by the mayor himself -- will determine if anyone knew about, directed or encouraged the employee to work on projects.
The "misuse of public assets" statute, 18.-112.1, could be used against anyone in the mayor's administration who directly violated it, by having a city employee to outside work on city time.
The revelations and subsequent response from city council is exactly what Jones told reporters wouldn't happen when asked about possible conflicts of interest after his election in late 2008.
He said there would be a wide separation between city hall and the vast, historic church he leads. He didn't want his church body to become a "political football," as he told a RTD reporter back then.
"But it's not because of me," he said previously to a CBS 6 reporter. "I believe strongly in the separation. I've worked over very hard over the seven years to make sure there's a separation between what happens at the church and what happens at the city."
When asked if he feels there needs to be an outside investigation, given there may have been misuse of public funds, he said "I really don't.”
CBS 6 has reached out to several individuals who were included on these email threads, and will update the story when they respond.