Prosecutor: Portsmouth Councilman Mark Whitaker manipulated witnesses in fraud case

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – The case involving a Portsmouth councilman’s fraud investigation continues to unfold.

10 On Your Side poured through newly unsealed court documents alleging witnesses in the case changed their stories several times.

The special prosecutor on the case is now pointing the finger at Councilman Mark Whitaker and his attorneys, claiming they dealt with witnesses in an ‘unethical’ manner. 

Documents include allegations that Whitaker and his attorneys unethically handled witnesses and their stories. Now the special prosecutor wants to use previous witness testimony at trial. 

Whitaker is facing 20 felony charges — accused of forging the names of three different people on checks dating back to 2013 and 2014.

The investigation centered around Whitaker’s Church, Bethel Baptist, and its ties to a failed credit union.

Court documents allege the loans totaled $35,000 to Whitaker’s associates or family members, now named as witnesses in the case. The motion alleges those witnesses have also changed their testimony. In the documents, Roberts alleges Whitaker, ‘”induced witnesses to sign affidavits under oath that contradict their prior statements making them vulnerable to some very serious charges.”

Meanwhile, Whitaker says the case is politically motivated. 

10 On Your Side spoke with Whitaker six months ago in the only on-camera interview surrounding his case. 

“No way in the world would I have forged any of their names. That was all a complete lie that the sheriff presented to the Portsmouth grand jury.” 

A judge has granted a continuance in the forgery and fraud case, with all parties agreeing to continue the trial on July 16.

Whitaker believes the investigation, which was launched in March 2017, was a political stunt coordinated by former Portsmouth Sheriff Bill Watson. Whitaker believes the case is a continuance of a past dispute between Watson and former Mayor Kenny Wright.

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