Virginia State Bar suspends law license of ex-Petersburg city attorney convicted in bomb threat hoax

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Virginia State Bar has suspended the law license of former Petersburg City Attorney Brian Telfair for professional misconduct after being convicted of filing a false police report in connection to a bomb threat hoax in 2016.

The Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board ruled that Telfair: violated or attempted to violate the rules of professional conduct, knowingly assisted or induced another to do so; committed a criminal or deliberately wrongful act that reflected adversely on a lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness to practice law; and engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation which reflects adversely on a lawyer's fitness to practice law.

Telfair’s law license was suspended for 90 days at the September 28 hearing.

The violations are in connection to 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 resigned as city attorney weeks later, in March 2016.

He was convicted of misdemeanor filing a false police report charge in September 2017.

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. He was also ordered to pay more than $7,000 to Virginia State Police for the cost of their investigation.

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 canceled about two hours before it was scheduled to start.

The canceled 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.