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West lawyer questions timing of Baltimore County theft charge

The Rev. Westley West, a Baltimore pastor running for city council, said Tuesday he won't let a theft charge in Baltimore County distract him from pursuing the seat.

The Rev. Westley West, a Baltimore pastor running for City Council, said Tuesday that he won't let a theft charge in Baltimore County distract him from pursuing the seat.

West and attorney Donald Wright called a news conference to respond to media reports about the misdemeanor charge filed last week in Baltimore County.

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County prosecutors allege that West, 27, used bank account and routing information to steal more than $700 from Elias Wilf Corp. in Owings Mills, where he briefly worked as a truck driver last year.

West, 27, declined to comment directly on the theft allegation.

"The truth needs no support, and therefore I'm not here to speak on the case, but I'm here to move forward," West said, standing outside City Hall with his attorney and several campaign supporters. "The truth takes a while sometimes to reveal itself."

West is seeking the Democratic nomination for the seat currently held by Nick Mosby, who is running for mayor. Other Democrats in the race are Shawn Z. Tarrant, a former state delegate; Kenneth Paul Church; and Marshall C. Bell. The primary election is April 26.

Wright said West denies the theft allegations. He said he is "deeply concerned with the timing of the [media] reports and the charge itself."

"The incident is alleged to have occurred over half a year ago," Wright said. "Pastor West announced his candidacy for the 7th District City Council seat on Sunday, and one day later we're seeing [media] reports about this charge."

Adam Lippe, the county prosecutor handling the case, said West has known the charge was pending for "at least a month" because a detective contacted West.

"The defendant was contacted by the Baltimore County Police Department, and he knew this was going to happen," Lippe said.

A court date is set for Feb 22.

West worked at the flooring company for less than a month, according to Linda Depkin, director of finance and human resources for the business.

In addition to the county charge, West is charged in Baltimore with attempting to incite a riot, disorderly conduct and other counts in connection with a September protest that occurred the day of a pretrial hearing for the police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray.

West says he was targeted by police for leading the demonstration. His trial is scheduled for Jan. 14.

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