Former Petersburg attorney accused of making up threats against council

Posted at 4:31 PM, Feb 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-17 18:05:30-05

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Former Petersburg City Attorney Brian Telfair has been charged with filing a false police report, a class one misdemeanor, following a Virginia State Police investigation.

The charge stemmed from a February 2016 incident in which Telfair said the city received two separate threats -- a racially-charged email and a phone call that threatened violence against some city leaders.

Howard Myers, who was then Petersburg's mayor, cited the threats as reasons why he had to cancel what was expected to be a contentious Petersburg City Council meeting.

The meeting was cancelled about two hours before it was scheduled to start.

"The allegation being made against me is false, mean-spirited and meant to damage my reputation and standing," Telfair said in a statement. "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."

In a February 16, 2016, interview -- the night of the cancelled meeting -- Telfair told CBS 6 reporter Melissa Hipolit he called a Petersburg Police officer to report the threats.

When Hipolit contacted Petersburg Police to learn more about the investigation into the threats, police directed her back to Telfair.

"How come when I called the police department, the spokesperson told me I would have to ask you about that?" she asked Telfair in 2016.

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

Brian Telfair in Feb. 2016

Brian Telfair in Feb. 2016

Other members of Petersburg City Council who showed up at the cancelled February 2016 meeting said they were disappointed it was cancelled without their input.

The cancelled meeting was expected to draw dozens of citizens concerned with the way Petersburg leaders were running the city and spending tax dollars. Many of those voters were upset over their water bills being delayed in delivery.

Some called for the resignation of then city manager William Johnson, since Petersburg was millions of dollars in debt after a more than $3 million budget shortfall in 2015. City Council voted to dismiss Johnson in May 2016.

Telfair turned himself in to Riverside Regional Jail and was released on his own recognizance.

The Chesterfield Commonwealth’s Attorney has been appointed special prosecutor in this case.

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