Port Moody mayor Robert Vagramov. (Black Press Media files)

Port Moody councillor says she can’t fill in for mayor while his sex assault case proceeds

Mayor Rob Vagramov is charged in connection with a 2015 incident in Coquitlam

A Port Moody city councillor says she cannot fill in for the mayor on the police board while his criminal case proceeds through the courts.

Coun. Meghan Lahti said Rob Vagramov’s return to work before his case is resolved is “inappropriate,” and to temporarily serve as police board chair would violate the city’s charter and the Police Act, which states the mayor must be the chair.

Vagramov returned to City Hall this week after taking a voluntary leave of absence in March, when he was charged with sexual assault. He denied the allegation that stemmed from an alleged incident in Coquitlam in April 2015, when he was a councillor, and said he wanted to focus on clearing his name.

Earlier this week, a statement on the city’s website said Vagramov is back to work, including but not limited to chairing several committees and boards, except the police board.

The statement said the mayor has asked Lahti, “and she has accepted,” to continue to chair the police board. That paragraph has since been removed from the website.

“The only way that I was in a position to fill the seat previously was because he had taken a leave and was no longer holding the position of mayor,” Lahti told Black Press Media in an email on Wednesday. “The Police Act states that the mayor must be the chair.

She went on to say the community deserves a council that can operate with out “this cloud hanging over it.”

“Not only is he unable to fulfill his duties fully, it causes distress in the community, (and) is a distraction for the council, neither of which are in the best interest of good governance or leadership,” she wrote.

A special prosecutor was appointed to avoid any real or perceived improper influence in in Vagramov’s case. His next court date is Sept. 12 in Port Coquitlam.

READ MORE: Vagramov explains why he asked homeless man to chug beer for sandwich

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