Rochester mayor due in court on campaign finance charges

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren is set to be arraigned on campaign finance charges dating to her 2017 reelection campaign

Via AP news wire
Monday 05 October 2020 17:12
Rochester-Mayor-Indicted
Rochester-Mayor-Indicted

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren is scheduled to be arraigned Monday on campaign finance charges dating to her 2017 reelection campaign.

The second-term mayor, a Democrat, was indicted by a grand jury on Friday on charges of scheming to defraud and violating election laws. Through her lawyer, Warren said she did not intentionally break any law.

Her campaign treasurer, Albert Jones Jr., and Rosalind Brooks-Harris, the treasurer of a political action committee that backed Warren, also are due in Monroe County Court. All are accused of taking steps to evade contribution limits between Nov. 6, 2013 and Nov. 7, 2017.

The criminal case comes during a tumultuous time for Warren, who has been facing calls to resign over the city's handling of the death of Daniel Prude. Prude, who was Black, died after police pinned him naked to a street and put a spit hood over his head following his brother's call for help over Prude's irrational behavior.

Warren was set to be arraigned in Monroe County Court before a judge from Cayuga County. If convicted, she could be sentenced to up to four years in prison, lose her law license and be removed from office, according to the district attorney, Sandra Doorley.

Doorley said Friday that elections officials began fielding complaints about Warren’s campaign finances in 2017, when the incumbent defeated two challengers in a Democratic primary prior to her reelection. She said the state Board of Elections presented with a 35-page report in March “that found considerable evidence” that Warrren, Jones and Brooks-Harris may have broken the law.

The grand jury was seated in September.

Warren previously blamed any errors on sloppy bookkeeping and called the lengthy investigation a “political witch hunt.”

Doorley, a Republican, denied that politics played a role in the investigation.

Prude died in March but the death only became public last month when the family released police body camera video they obtained through an open records request. The Monroe County medical examiner listed the death as a homicide caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint” and cited phencyclidine, or PCP, as a contributing factor.

Critics accused police and city officials of covering up Prude’s killing, though Warren said she had no idea the medical examiner ruled his death a homicide until Aug. 4, when she saw the video.

Warren is the first female and second Black mayor of Rochester, a city of more than 200,000 by Lake Ontario.