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Ex-Petersburg attorney pleads guilty to making up threats against council

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Former Petersburg City Attorney Brian Telfair pleaded guilty Wednesday for misdemeanor filing a false police report.

The charge stemmed from a February 2016 incident in which Telfair said the city received two separate threats -- a racially-charged email and a phone call that threatened violence against some city leaders.

Telfair was convicted of the charge in September.

Wednesday, during the first day of his appeal trial in Petersburg Circuit Court, Telfair pleaded guilty to the charge. He was sentenced to 12 months in jail with 11 months suspended, for a total of one month in jail.

Court documents showed that Telfair told investigators he had received a racist threat over the phone on February 16, 2016 and a decision was made to cancel the City Council meeting that evening for safety reasons.

But upon further investigation, detectives obtained surveillance video for that same day, showing the Clerk of Council Nykesha Jackson purchasing a pre-paid cell phone, or burner phone inside a Family Dollar.

Jackson later stated that Telfair gave her money to buy the phone, according to the documents.

The meeting was cancelled about two hours before it was scheduled to start.

The cancelled meeting was expected to draw dozens of citizens concerned with the way Petersburg leaders were running the city and spending tax dollars. Many of those voters were upset over their water bills being delayed in delivery.

Court papers also showed that Telfair was shown a copy of the investigative report and it stated Telfair made the threatening call to himself that was reported to Petersburg Police, and he said he made the call to preserve the institution of the City.