By Liz Beavers
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - Keyser City council member William Zacot has turned in his resignation after his fellow council members left his fate up in the air following their Sept. 9 meeting.
At that meeting, mayor Damon Tillman read a letter from Mineral County prosecuting attorney Cody Pancake stating that Zacot was "not currently qualified to serve in his position" due to his recent felony conviction for embezzlement from the Keyser Youth Baseball League. Zacot is currently on probation for the offense.
After reading Pancake’s letter during that meeting, Tillman also read a section of the West Virginia State Code which stipulated the three ways an elected official could be removed from office: 1. By a resolution of the city council, 2. by a special state-appointed three-judge court, or 3. by petition of the voters.
While the city council took no action on the issue at the Sept. 9 meeting, Zacot said Tillman had told him later that the officials were going to opt to take the issue before a three-judge court.
"So I typed up my resignation and I sent it to Mayor Tillman, and he said, ‘Are you sure this is what you want?’" Zacot told the News Tribune Tuesday.
"Yes, it is," Zacot said, explaining that the court case has already taken a toll on him and his family, and he didn’t want to prolong the ordeal.
"I love this town; I’ve always loved this town. But my family is more important," he said.
"They say don’t make decisions when it’s emotional. But I’ve had time now to sit back and think about it. I’d make the same decision regardless if it’s three days ago or next week," he said.
Zacot, accused of embezzling funds from the Keyser Youth Baseball League prior to being elected to the council, entered into a plea agreement in which he pled no contest, which is not an admission of guilt but is treated by the court as a conviction. He was sentenced to seven years probation, which was reduced to two years as long as he does not violate the conditions of his probation.
Mayor Tillman could not immediately be reached for comment on Zacot’s resignation, although he was visibly upset during the Sept. 9 meeting when he finally addressed the issue of eligibility.
It is now up to Tillman to recommend someone to fill Zacot’s seat, with the approval of the majority of the remaining members of council.
The next council meeting is Wednesday, Sept. 23.