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Ethics settlement forces Beckley mayor's resignation

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BECKLEY, WV (AP) — Mayor Emmett Pugh will step down on Dec. 31 under a settlement involving nine alleged ethics violations.

While Pugh admits no guilt, he will reimburse the West Virginia Ethics Commission $7,000 for the cost of the investigation and agree to not hold public office for five years, The Register-Herald  reported Friday.

One of the accusations included Pugh's alleged authorization of Beckley Public Works to use city-owned equipment and labor to pave roads and install sewer lines at a housing subdivision at city expense.

Part of the agreement announced Thursday also includes a public reprimand and divestiture of all ownership interests in the subdivision.

Pugh said of the reprimand, "I don't know how you can be publicly reprimanded when you haven't admitted any guilt."

Pugh said the alleged ethics violations involved practices that date back decades in the city.

"It's just the way we've done business. It's the way I was taught," he said. "We're not doing anything different. At the end of the day, the bottom line is, I'm not admitting to any violation of the Ethics Act."

The ethics violations, made public in April 2012, included the use of public office for private gain and accepting improper gifts.

Beckley's Common Council will appoint a mayor to serve the remaining two years of Pugh's term.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press