RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — For months, an investigation has been underway into Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s removal of the city’s Confederate monuments. The Commonwealth’s Attorney assigned to the case found no evidence of improper benefit to Stoney or criminal intent behind the mayor’s actions.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney acting as the Director of Emergency Management used his authority to begin removing Richmond’s Confederate monuments during the civil unrest last summer. The first statue, Stonewall Jackson, was removed on July 1. Former city councilwoman and one of Stoney’s opponents for mayor in 2020, Kim Gray brought Stoney’s choice of contractor for the project into question in August of 2020.
An investigation was launched into Stoney’s removal of the monuments after concerns were raised with the cost, the removal contract going to a Stoney political contributor and the contractor concealing his identity to the public.
The Augusta County Commonwealth’s Attorney Timothy Martin was appointed as the special prosecutor, he elected to pursue the investigation in November. Following a formal request from Martin, the Office of the Attorney General authorized Virginia State Police to carry out an investigation.
In a release on Wednesday, Martin stated that “no evidence of improper benefit to the Mayor as a result of the contract for removal was found.”
The release explains that the selection of contractor Team Henry, run by Devon Henry, was sparked by the suggestion of another city employee and not Stoney. Henry had previously contributed to a Stoney political campaign. The investigation found that Richmond contacted numerous contractors about removing the monuments and many refused for personal or security reasons.
Martins release said, “The City’s diligent pursuit of other contractors does not support an allegation that the Mayor improperly sent this City business to his campaign donor.”
Jeff Breit, personal attorney for Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney says they are pleased but not surprised by the outcome. He said Gray’s attempts to “smear the mayor” for political gain during a campaign was “somewhat of an irritating factor.”
Breit said that while he understands the appearance of the decision to hire Henry might have come off “less than perfect,” that he was confident that the city’s choice to hire Henry’s firm had nothing to do with the mayor.
Martin said the initial concealment of Henry’s identity by creating a business entity was done due to the controversy surrounding the monument’s removal and not to “conceal an improper transaction.”
After the release was sent, Martin admitted to 8News that he never interviewed the mayor about the case.
“First he was represented by an attorney, who I imagine would have advised against it,” Martin said over a text message. “Second, we got all the info we needed without having to.”
Breit told 8News in an email that he believed Martin’s investigation was thorough.