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Petersburg treasurer hospitalized; council members unaware of absence

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PETERSBURG, Va. – Family members said Petersburg City Treasurer Kevin Brown has been hospitalized just weeks after the city’s mayor asked him to resign amid allegations he stole money from taxpayers.

Some said Brown appeared to be recovering after he missed work earlier this year while battling cancer and receiving treatment in Atlanta.

But then allegations surfaced in June that Brown stole money from his office. Two city council members called for his resignation.

Brown's wife told WTVR CBS 6 senior reporter Wayne Covil she does not know when her husband will be able to return to work.

"Kevin's decline in health has been obvious over the past two years," Gloria Person Brown said in a statement. "He is not well and had to be hospitalized. Please be prayerful for his full recovery."

Petersburg Treasurer Kevin Brown

Council members unaware  

Some members of Petersburg City Council were unaware of Brown’s absence since Tuesday.

"I'm just hearing about this situation,” Darrin Hill, who represents Ward 2, said. "I am praying for he and his family that he will get well."

Treska Wilson-Smith, who represents Ward 1, said the treasurer has been under a lot of stress.

"In addition to already being in bad health, the stress of what he's been going through is enough to make bad health worse,” she said.

The two city council members said they do not believe Brown’s absence will affect day-to-day operations at his office.

"City Hall is open, the Treasurer's Office is open,” Hill said. “You can come and pay your bills."

Wilson-Smith said she does not think Brown’s absence affects the city.

“I think the city has to be strong enough, such that if any employee is every out sick or has to be hospitalized, that business goes on as usual,” Wilson-Smith said. "I wish him well. I'm sure his family is concerned."

As staff reductions affected the treasurer's office, Wilson-Smith volunteered regularly to help out in the office.

After learning of Brown being in the hospital, she said she plans to continue to volunteer.

FBI also looking at forensic audit of Petersburg treasurer’s office

The news of Brown's absence comes after the results of a forensic audit into the treasurer’s office were handed to a special prosecutor in the Chesterfield Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, along with the FBI and Virginia State Police, in late June.

"A forensic audit looks for fraud, it may find it, it may not,” said Tom Tyrrell, Interim City Manager. "We've turned over information from the forensic audit of the Treasurer's Office, that we think is appropriate to provide to law enforcement, they may proceed with something or they may not."

The audit is examining nine different areas of city government, though the part concerning the Treasurer's Office recently wrapped up. But not before Mayor Sam Parham stood in front of City Hall and called for Brown's resignation.

The Mayor called for Brown's resignation as allegations surfaced about Brown and money possibly missing from his office, but no specifics or details have been offered about the accusations.

Brown said he did not steal any money from his office and that he will remain City Treasurer until his term ends.

"Definitely I want to stay, I want to complete my term," Brown said.

"We're conducting a forensic audit over several areas of the city and those reports have not been completed,” Tyrell said. "Right now we're targeting the end of August, for a final report but keep in mind that as you start to uncover additional information, it might draw you into a longer analysis."

Tyrrell said he believes the audit will do what it's intended to do: “provide Petersburg with the answers to their questions about how did we get here."

In August of 2016, CBS 6 reported that Petersburg's financial crisis involved more than $18 million of unpaid bills after historic over-spending that started in 2012.