Philly Mayor Resigns
City starts search to fill vacancy after forgery case

Jeremy Styron-News-Herald

Philadelphia Mayor John Drinnon resigned Monday night amid a check forgery scandal that has already resulted in two arrests and a warrant issued for another man who may have been complicit in the case.

"We have received the mayor's letter of resignation, and we voted unanimously to accept it," Alderwoman Lynne Marlow said Monday night after Philadelphia's City Council meeting.

Drinnon sent a resignation letter via email notifying city council of his decision a little more than an hour before the scheduled meeting.

"We have not always agreed on all issued (sic), but we have proceeded with a spirit of cooperation and decorum that is commendable," Drinnon wrote in the letter about his sometimes tense relationship with city council. "However, the recent events involving the breach of financial security has left me in a state of emotional disarray since the perpetrators of these actions are people who are near and dear to my heart."

Rodney James Vite, 21, Oak Ridge, and Allisandra Chantel Gates, 25, Lenoir city, were charged with forgery after depositing city checks that were signed by Drinnon and former City Recorder Rosie Boston.

Loudon County Sheriff's Office has a warrant out for Rustin Lynn Key, 28, of 198 Donald St., Philadelphia.

Key was Boston's boyfriend at the time of the incident, Lt. Patrick Upton said, noting once Key is located, Drinnon will be interviewed by the Sheriff's Office and the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury.

"We've got one guy we're still looking for (Key), and you probably can guess the other person that we're probably going to have to talk to again. You just mentioned his name," Upton said about Drinnon. "So, it probably won't make it to this grand jury. It'll probably be the next one."

Drinnon could not be reached for comment on his cell phone Tuesday morning.

Vite and Gates admitted to taking part in the forgery, and their case has been waived to a grand jury, Upton said. A court date has not yet been set. Both posted bond.

Philadelphia City Council previously voted to release Boston from her position as city recorder and elected Philadelphia resident Traci Russell to the post.

Drinnon, who is pastor at Word of Faith Church in Loudon, said in his letter that during 20 years of ministry he has welcomed people he described as "misfits, miscreants, addicts" and outcasts.

"Some I have been able to help and point in a direction that would provide them with a peaceful, civil and socially responsible life," Drinnon wrote. "Others I have failed and lost to the clutches of depravity. But, my heart is to never give up on anyone, no matte how desperate their situation may be. And it is for that reason that the recent events involving the stolen City checks occurred."

Philadelphia Vice Mayor Chris Miller will take on mayoral responsibilities going forward, and the city will start a search to fill Miller's vacant alderman seat, Marlow said.

The city plans to make a offer to Jimmy Russell to fill the vacant spot. Russell was narrowly defeated by Drinnon during the last mayoral election. If Russell declines, the post will be offered to Laura Standridge, who tied with Marlow for her city council seat. Marlow was subsequently named to the board to break the tie. If Russell and Standridge decline, the city plans to post a notice in the newspaper seeking nominations. City council will take up a vote to fill the seat once an individual is named.

Marlow said she was not surprised by Drinnon's resignation. "We were expecting it," she said. "He hasn't shown up for the last couple meetings."

Upton said police have some information about Key's possible whereabouts but have yet to bring him into custody.

"We've got some leads that we've been checking on, but nothing's panned out," Upton said. "We've got some information about some of his habits, where he's been going and stuff but just ain't caught him. He's pretty much one of the major persons we want to interview."

Upton did not provide further details on why police were planning an additional interview with Drinnon but said he was not above suspicion in the case.

"Is he eliminated? Absolutely not," Upton said.