VA State Police investigating ties between Richmond mayor's church and City Hall

VA State Police investigating ties between Richmond mayor's church and City Hall

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Virginia State Police will begin investigating any possible conflict between Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones' church and city government, confirmed Commonwealth Attorney Mike Herring.

A Richmond grand jury has now approved the investigation, after Mayor Jones requested in January to see if any criminal action was taken when Public Works Director Emmanuel Adediran conducted church business on city time. Jones has said he welcomes the review out of an abundance of caution and to ensure accountability to the people of Richmond.

"We welcome the decision of the grand jury to authorize the VA State Police to conduct the investigation that we requested in January," a city spokesperson said in an email.

Under Virginia law, no elected official can be investigated unless it is requested by the governor, the attorney general or a grand jury.

In an interview Wednesday, NBC12 Legal Analyst Steve Benjamin said the grand jury's involvement solidifies the possibility Jones' conduct may be examined as well.

"You don't need a grand jury to approve an investigation into an unelected city hall employee," Benjamin said. "This suggests a broadening of the investigation, beyond what the mayor had requested."

Adediran is an unelected public official, still working at City Hall.

Herring called the authorization from the grand jury a "procedural" step, but would not go into the details of the probe. State Police refused to comment on the investigation.

The conflict was exposed by City Auditor Umesh Dalal who found Adediran worked on the construction of a new Chesterfield campus for First Baptist Church of South Richmond, the church headed by Jones. His son, Richmond School Board member Derik Jones, is also a pastor there.

Investigators found Adediran spent 38 hours on the church project on city time through phone calls and emails. Adediran agreed to exchange 38 hours of vacation time to remove any concern.

When interviewed, Adediran said he volunteers at the church, serves as an assistant pastor and provides guidance for the church construction project. He also said he typically spends well in excess of 40 hours a week conducting city business.

City records showed Adediran has been a city employee for 18 years, formerly working as the Deputy Director of General Services for the Department of Public Works.

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