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The town will open its own investigation into a criminal charge against Black Mountain alderman Jeremie Konegni.

The board voted unanimously on June 11 to instruct town  attorney Ron Sneed to look into censure proceedings for Konegni, arrested by Black Mountain police May 13 and charged with assault on a female at his home.

Konegni did not vote, but his silence reflects as an affirmative vote on the record.

“This board, several years ago, adopted a code of ethics that not only addressed what an alderman may do in his role as alderman, but also how that alderman acts in the community and how that might reflect on this board,” Sneed said. “There has been an occurrence that at least some board members have indicated they feel is an action that might reflect on this board that needs to be dealt with.”

Black Mountain police were called to the Konegni home around 2:30 a.m. May 13 regarding a domestic incident, and while on the scene officers concluded an assault had taken place at the residence. Konegni was booked into the Buncombe County Detention Center. His case has been continued until June 27.

He has yet to comment publicly on his arrest, but has attended aldermen workshops and meetings in the weeks since. 

“The code of ethics only allows the board to censure, they can’t fire (him), but can make their statements known,” Sneed said. “The process says the attorney will be directed to investigate and determine if there’s a reason for the board to find there was a violation of the code of ethics.”

Sneed added that the board’s vote indicated that it found sufficient reason to direct him to institute that investigation.

Alderman Larry Harris made the motion to authorize Sneed to open the investigation, and it passed with no discussion. In an interview the following day, mayor Don Collins said the board hasn’t received any information from Konegni regarding the incident.

“We have constituents who are asking us what we’re going to do about this, and we have to tell them the only thing we can do is censure him,” Collins said. “We can’t require him to step down, he’s an elected official.”

Collins added that the authorization to open the proceedings is the first step in the process.

“We’re going to find out if this situation warrants a censure,” he said.

Konegni, who said he cannot comment on the pending case itself, agrees with the actions taken by his fellow board members. 

"They are taking steps that I would take if I was on the other side of the situation," he said. "They are doing what they are supposed to do to protect the integrity of the board."

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