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Virginia State Police To Investigate Mayor Stoney’s Contract Award

Toppled statue being lifted
A statue of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson being removed from it's pedestal on Monument Avenue, where it stood for over 100 years. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

Attorney General Mark Herring has authorized Virginia State Police to investigate Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s handling of a contract to remove the city’s Confederate monuments. 

VPM first reported back in July that the city had paid $1.8 million for monument removal to a shell company called NAH, LLC. A follow-up investigation by the Richmond Times-Dispatch found that the company was tied to Devon Henry, a donor to Stoney’s previous mayoral campaign. The authorization of the state police investigation was first reported by WRIC.

Timothy Martin, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Augusta County who was appointed as the special prosecutor in this case, confirmed to VPM on Friday that the Virginia State Police were now involved.

“The AG sent the letter to Virginia State Police and they are now on it and will do the on-the-ground investigation into it,” he said.

Martin said it is “safe to assume” that interviews will be conducted with city officials involved with the contract award. A spokesperson for Herring said the Attorney General’s office does not comment on any investigations.

For his part, Stoney has denied any allegations of wrongdoing and said he was not involved in the process that led to Henry receiving the contract.

“I don’t get involved in the procurement process ever,” Stoney said at an October press conference. “That has been the practice of my office from day one and the process that was followed through, in the right fashion, for this particular contract.”

In an email Friday, Stoney’s lawyer Jeffrey Briet said he believes the authorization is due to concerns around having enough personnel and he is confident the removal contract “was by the book proper.”

City officials say multiple contracting firms were contacted about Confederate monument removal but refused the job.

The investigation was first requested by former City Council Member Kim Gray, a political rival of Stoney’s who unsuccessfully ran against him in November. Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin requested a special prosecutor in September, because Henry also made a political donation to her husband, U.S. Rep. Donald McEachin.

Gray’s request came after Stoney unilaterally moved forward with removing all of the city’s Confederate monuments on July 1. He cited public safety concerns, after Black Lives Matter protesters toppled multiple Confederate statues and a statue of Christopher Columbus in Byrd Park. A Richmond City Council meeting was called the same day, but the body delayed a vote supporting removal. City Council eventually voted to take the statues down, but only after the process began.

Editor's note: This story was updated to reflect that WRIC, not WTVR, first reported the authorization.