Uhrin will not face state charges related to Cavalier project

Councilman Jolhn Urhin
Councilman John Uhrin

The Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday it will not prosecute Beach Councilman John Uhrin following its investigation into whether he broke conflict of interest laws when voting on the Cavalier land project.

There isn’t enough evidence to do so, it said in a release to media.

Uhrin said Tuesday night it is a blessing to not have the investigation “hanging over everything” he does at city hall “like a cloud.”

The conflict of interest questions arose after Uhrin’s wife, Catherine Sassone, was hired to work on the real estate and hotel project soon after the councilman voted in 2013 to approve millions in incentives for it.

The investigation found “no documentation in writing linking Catherine Sassone or her boss, Bart Frye, to the Cavalier Project before the initial vote on the project in July 2013,” the office said in its announcement.

Coupled with the city attorney’s opinions on conflicts of interest, the lack of documentation means there is insufficient evidence to prove criminal charges beyond a reasonable doubt, according to the statement, released by Macie Allen, a spokesperson for the office.

“I’m very happy and so is my wife,” Uhrin said of the investigation’s conclusion. He said he did not want to discuss details or address critics.

The commonwealth’s attorney’s office began its investigation after The Virginian-Pilot reported in 2014 about the involvement of Uhrin’s wife in the project. Uhrin voted in 2013 to grant $18 million in incentives to the Cavalier project before his wife was hired to market new homes from the development, the newspaper reported. Seven months later, in February 2014, Uhrin voted again to give $18 million of taxpayer money to the project, the paper reported.

The paper also reported the FBI was looking into the potential conflict. Asked if that investigation continues, a spokeswoman with the FBI’s Norfolk office said Tuesday she could not comment on the status of an ongoing or potential case. Uhrin said he knew nothing about it.

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