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Suffolk prosecutor represents IW petitioners

Published 8:39pm Monday, July 8, 2013

A Suffolk assistant commonwealth’s attorney is representing the petitioners in an effort to remove two Isle of Wight County officials from their seats.

Hearings on the petitions to have Supervisor Byron “Buzz” Bailey and School Board member Herb DeGroft removed have been continued until Aug. 12 and Sept. 5, respectively.

Suffolk prosecutor Susan Walton is assigned to the case representing the petitioners because the Isle of Wight Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office recused itself, she said Friday.

Voters in the county have been working since spring to gather the necessary signatures to have the two elected officials removed by the courts. Bailey and DeGroft were revealed to have circulated emails containing crude humor to other board members and county staff. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are the targets of several of the jokes in the emails. One shows a photo of women in tribal garb and calls it the first lady’s “high school reunion.”

Both men have apologized but insist they’ve done nothing illegal and won’t resign. DeGroft, however, recently announced that he changed his mind about running for re-election. His term ends this year; Bailey’s term lasts through 2015.

“Regardless of the outcome, it doesn’t change the situation of what he (Bailey) has said and done,” said Joe Puglisi. He and Brenda Lee have been co-captains in the collection of petition signatures for Bailey’s recall. They collected 301 signatures, and 238 were needed to quality for filing.

Rosa Holmes-Turner of Rushmere has been the team captain of the committee to recall DeGroft. She said 238 signatures were obtained, and only 205 were needed to quality for filing.

State code section 24.2-233 states any elected officer in the jurisdiction of a Circuit Court may be removed by the court for, among other things, “neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties when that neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties has a material adverse effect upon the conduct of the office.”

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