Councilor Pelham Cleared of Charges
By Caitlin Davis
Sep 21, 2012, 10:48
Councilor Brenda Pelham
In what was described as a brief court appearance Wednesday morning, Councilor and former Mayor of Hopewell, Brenda Pelham, was cleared of all 13 indictments involving conflict of interest charges; voting for school matters while being employed by the school system.
“I learned from it of course, quite a bit,” Pelham said.
Judge Samuel Campbell presided over the case and moved to dismiss the charges after a motion was made by Richmond Commonwealth Attorney, Michael Herring, special prosecutor in the case .
On Sept. 7, 2011, Pelham pleaded no contest to three of the conflict of interest charges as Herring agreed to dismiss 10 of the 13 misdemeanor charges.
Had Pelham been convicted, she would have faced a $2,500 fine on each of the counts, 12 months in jail and the possibility of being removed from City Council by the Circuit Court.
Peter Eliades, of Eliades and Eliades, said 10 of the 13 counts could not be tried before a court as they had passed the time frame required by Virginia’s Statue of Limitations. An individual has to be charged with a misdemeanor within 12 months of the offense date. As per the law, only three of the 13 charges Pelham faced could even be tried. Some of the charges date back to 2006, more than five years prior to her being charged in May, 2011.
“It was dead in the water before we even started,” Peter Eliades said.
Pelham will also have her record expunged. Peter Eliades explained that without the agreement to do so, the 13 counts could have stayed on Pelham’s record forever, even if the charges were dismissed.
Peter Eliades said he is pleased with the outcome, although still remains baffled as to why the charges ever came about.
“Brenda Pelham has been in the school system for more than 20 years. She walks around with her laniard around her neck,” Peter Eliades said. “Everybody, everybody, everybody, especially everybody on city council, knew that Brenda Pelham worked for the school system.”
Peter Eliades said as per the research he had completed, Pelham was well within her rights to vote as she did on council on school matters, even though she was an employee of the school district.
“I feel strongly about it,” Homer Eliades, with Eliades and Eliades said. “It was unfair the way they did it. It was politically motivated. I have no problem saying that. Some [charges] go back two years or more. Ten out of the 13 cannot even be prosecuted. They were too old.”
When asked about the outcome of the court case, Homer Eliades said, “May I say, justice was done.”
Pelham agrees with Homer Eliades, and said that the charges brought against her were nothing more than a bullying tacit.
“People like to control other people by doing evil things,” Pelham said.
Even though it was Pelham who sat in the courtroom, she was more worried about those not present.
“I was not worried about myself,” Pelham said. “I worry about how if affects my family. I hated that they had to go through it.”
Pelham said she was grateful for the support she received during the process.
“I thank God first of all for getting me through this trial,” Pelham said. “And for the people, my friends and my family, that were there to support me.”
Despite the court case, Pelham is ready to move on and looks forward to the next chapter in her political career.
“It’s all over with now,” Pelham said. “I’ll forgive and move on.”
Pelham also added that because of this court case, she will make sure to “dot every i and cross every t.”
“I look forward to serving another four years,” Pelham said. “I will move forward and continue to serve the community.”