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Judge dismisses 17 charges against Portsmouth councilman

PORTSMOUTH (AP) A judge has dismissed all but three charges against a Portsmouth councilman accused of forgery and identity theft.

Most of the charges against Councilman Mark Whitaker were dismissed July 17, The Virginian-Pilot reported. Judge Harold W. Burgess Jr. ruled that prosecutors failed to present enough evidence to send those charges to a jury.

Whitaker had been charged with two counts of identity fraud, eight counts of forgery and seven counts of “uttering a forged check.” He pleaded not guilty. The charges against the assistant pastor at the New Bethel Baptist Church stem from seven loans the church’s credit union made in 2013.

The dismissal comes on the second day of Whitaker’s trial, which was set to resume July 18 for closing arguments on the three remaining forgery charges.

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