Former city worker: Petersburg Acting City Manager hit parked car, drove away
PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - Petersburg's Acting City Manager, Dironna Belton is being investigated by city leaders after an incident involving a city vehicle, according to sources. Sources also say that some of the Acting City Manager's powers are being scaled back.
The move comes just a week after council learned Dironna Belton was involved in a crash while behind the wheel of a city vehicle. Conflicts surrounding that crash are now causing concerns.
There are two separate incident reports. One describes an alleged hit and run. Another points to a situation less severe. NBC 12 is looking into both and exploring whether protocol was followed.
Ryan Mitchem just resigned from being the former Fleet Manager for the City of Petersburg.
"I got my first check with the 10-percent reduction. I have a two-year-old, so I had to find something a little more stable," he says.
One of his responsibilities was to respond to crashes involving employees driving city cars. On Sept. 14, he says he got a call from Acting City Manager Dironna Belton.
"She told me she struck a white box truck, the white box truck that was on the side of Washington Street for the better part of the majority of time I worked there…I specifically remember this because she told me it was right in front of the ABC store there," Mitchem says.
So he says he traveled to City Hall to inspect the vehicle Belton was driving, noticing the side mirror was broken. Since there was no damage to the truck she allegedly hit, he says she kept going.
That's when he says he went to the scene of the alleged accident on Washington Street to look for pieces of the side mirror. Mitchem says he didn't find any debris, as street sweepers had recently cleaned the area.
"I went and did my investigation, filled out my report and went to hand it straight to her, because I don't have direct access to the council," Mitchem said.
Mitchem says he thought that was the end of the story, until he recently got a call from Belton telling him she did not hit a truck on Washington Street but actually a pole at the city's bus maintenance station where he worked.
"That phone call was a little concerning to me," he said.
Weeks later, a new incident report surfaced, separate from the one Mitchem wrote up. The date it was reported is stamped October 4 - nearly three weeks after the incident.
Petersburg policy says employees involved in an accident in city cars must be drug tested and the incident reported right away.
"I can not respond to personnel issues," Belton said by email when asked for her side of the story.
NBC 12 checked in with the Acting Police Chief William Rhode, who says he has no record of anyone reporting an accident in a city vehicle on the date of Belton's ordeal.
Sources say late Thursday, Mayor Howard Myers informed Belton her powers to hire, fire, and allocate funding have now been stripped.
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