Prosecutor: No charges after Richmond mayor investigation

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney Michael N. Herring will not seek criminal charges after investigating a possible connection between a city official's work and construction at the church at which Mayor Dwight C. Jones is senior pastor.

But while the report Herring released Wednesday doesn't call for prosecution, it questions the mayor's truthfulness and raises "suspicion and concern" about how the Jones administration operates.

"Nothing about the way that this matter was handled reflects, I think, reflects well on the administration," Herring said.

The investigation was launched after a city audit concluded that Director of Public Works Emmanuel O. Adediran spent city time on conference calls related to the construction of a new facility for First Baptist Church of South Richmond. Adediran later forfeited 38 hours of vacation time.

Jones is a former state lawmaker who became mayor in 2009. He's set to leave office in January.

Herring said in his report that he looked into whether city funds were being used to finance the facility's construction, among other things. He said he found no evidence to support criminal charges. Herring said hiring members of the church in executive-level city positions "smacks of cronyism" but is not criminal.

Herring added that the city would benefit from greater transparency in its hiring and contracting practices.

But Richard Cullen, Jones' lawyer, disagreed that his client had acted improperly in any way. Cullen noted that Jones called for the Virginia State Police to review the matter and cooperated with Herring's investigation.

"There was no evidence of any wrongdoing, period," Cullen said.

The Jones matter attracted the attention of federal law enforcement officials and Herring said the FBI was part of the investigation. But U.S. Attorney's office spokesman Joshua Stueve said Wednesday that federal prosecutors have "no pending criminal investigation involving the mayor."