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Advocate believes ex-Petersburg attorney arrested for making up threats didn’t act alone

Posted at 10:48 PM, Feb 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-17 23:18:29-05

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Nearly a year to the day that former Petersburg City Attorney Brian Telfair told CBS 6 reporter Melissa Hipolit about not one, but two alleged threats against the City of Petersburg by email and phone, Virginia State Police charged Telfair with filing a false police report.

Telfair said on February 16, 2016 the first threat came in the form of an email the previous Saturday.

"It basically said Petersburg was a city full of N words," Telfair told Hipolit that day.

He said the second threat was made on February 16, 2016 over the phone.

"It was a physical threat of physical harm to certain individuals, council members, city staff, members of the administration," Telfair told Hipolit that day.

At the time, Telfair told Hipolit he reported the incident to a Petersburg Police Officer who opened an investigation.

Brian Telfair in Feb. 2016

Brian Telfair in Feb. 2016

Hipolit asked him during that interview last year, "How come when I called the police department the spokesperson told me I would have to ask you about that?"

"One of the reasons we do that is so the message doesn't get convoluted between a bunch of city departments," Telfair responded.

Telfair's allegations about the threats came at a critical moment in Petersburg, just days after then-Mayor Howard Myers' "State of the City" address.

During the address he said the city was strong and getting stronger.

In fact, the city was experiencing a massive financial crisis, and it was unable to pay millions of dollars of debt.

The City Council was supposed to have its first meeting since the address that very night and residents were expected to confront city leaders and demand new leadership.

But, Mayor Myers cancelled the meeting just two hours before start time due to the threats.

Former Petersburg Mayor W. Howard Myers

Former Petersburg Mayor W. Howard Myers

"I don't think anybody believed the threat, they thought it was joke," Gina Harrison, a Petersburg resident and Co-Founder of Clean Sweep Petersburg, said.

Harrison still went to the meeting that night where the five council members that showed up called for a special meeting two nights later.

"I think there is more to the story," Harrison said.

Harrison said she believes someone told Telfair to make up the threats.

"I am very curious to see who else gets named and how people start maybe rating on each other," Harrison said.

Hipolit asked Myers, who is still on Council, for an interview on Friday afternoon.

At first he agreed, but then he changed his mind stating he might be called as a witness in the case.

Telfair sent the following statement to Hipolit:

"The allegation being made against me is false, mean-spirited and meant to damage my reputation and standing. After successfully leaving the City of Petersburg approximately one year ago, and after attempting to expose the various levels of corruption in the City, there are those who unfortunately want to shine the light of doubt on me. I look forward to successfully defending this allegation in Court."