HOPEWELL, VA (WWBT) - A councilwoman accused of breaking the law is speaking out for the first time about being charged with multiple crimes.
Former mayor and current Hopewell city councilwoman, Brenda Pelham, says she will be vindicated. The embattled councilwoman spoke exclusively with NBC12.
Pelham prayed with supporters just after appearing in court Wednesday morning. She's charged with 13 counts of failure to disclose conflict interest.
"I'm just appalled by the charges that were brought against me," said Pelham.
For 22 years, Pelham has worked for the school system. She's currently an attendance officer at Hopewell High School.
"I've served the kids and their parents and I've tried to help them understand the importance of education," said Pelham.
For 7 years Pelham has and continues to serve as a councilwoman. According to court records Pelham knowingly failed to declare a conflict of interest in voting on school related matters 13 times -- between June 2006 and July 2010.
"I've always voted the way I voted for 7 years. It's never been an issue," said Pelham.
NBC12 Legal Analyst Steve Benjamin is not affiliated with the case but offers insight about the charges.
"Public officials voting on a measure that could impact some personal interest they have -- they must disclose that fact each and every time," said Benjamin.
He adds, the law regarding the charges is complicated.
"Any prosecutor handling this case will question whether the law was broken and whether, considering all circumstances, if prosecuting is necessary and if so to what extent," said Benjamin.
Pelham says she's confident justice will be served. Her hearing on Wednesday was to establish if she needed to be appointed an attorney. She told the judge she already had retained council.
Pelham is due back in court in August. Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney, Michael Herring , has been brought in as a special prosecutor for the case.
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