KEYSER, W.Va. — Toward the end of Wednesday evening’s City Council meeting and over some citizen objections, Keyser Mayor Damon Tillman announced that Councilman William Zacot was being removed from the council on the advice of the city’s attorney.
A letter received from Mineral County Prosecuting Attorney F. Cody Pancake that Tillman read during the meeting Wednesday rebutted comments Tillman made to the Times-News in an August article regarding Zacot’s status on the council.
In the article, Tillman said that at the time, he “spoke with attorneys, I spoke with the prosecuting attorney, I spoke with the judge, the city attorney and I have no authority to” remove Zacot from council. That was incorrect, according to the prosecutor’s letter.
Per Tillman’s reading of the letter, Pancake wrote that Zacot was “not qualified” to serve and that is “abundantly clear.” His resignation would be the best course of action, Pancake said of Zacot in the letter.
Zacot, the city’s parks and recreation commissioner, was indicted in May 2019 on one felony count of embezzlement in connection with the alleged embezzlement of funds from the Keyser Youth Baseball League.
He entered a no contest plea on Jan. 27 to the embezzlement charge and was sentenced in July to seven years' probation.
After an executive session, when the meeting reconvened a visibly upset Tillman announced that he’d had a lengthy conversation with city attorney Scott McClure on the subject earlier in the day. McClure’s legal opinion, Tillman said, was that Zacot’s removal from the council would be the best move.
Though he disagreed with Zacot’s removal, and said he personally agreed with city residents Cathy Bridges and Shawn Snyder, who spoke in Zacot's defense during the meeting, “we’re elected to do the right thing for city, to follow the law,” Tillman said.
Zacot left the meeting before the executive session commenced and did not return after.