[News From Attorney General’s Office]
Mayor Thomas. Photo: Facebook
Attorney General Letitia James and Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced the guilty plea of Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas for stealing campaign funds and lying about those funds on a disclosure to the State Board of Elections.
Thomas was sentenced to pay a $13,000 fine in addition to a one-year conditional discharge during which time Thomas may not seek or accept any elected or appointed public office or seek or accept any position as a public servant. Thomas will also resign and leave office effective September 30, 2019.
“By using campaign funds to line his own pockets, Thomas broke the law, and violated public trust,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “New Yorkers put their faith in our public servants, and Thomas’ gross violation of that faith constitutes the utmost disloyalty to those he was sworn to serve. My office will continue to root out public corruption, uphold the integrity of public office, and bring bad actors to justice at every level of government throughout New York.”
“Mayor Thomas admitted to knowingly misusing campaign donations to fund his lifestyle instead of funding his campaign,” said State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. “Thanks to my partnership with Attorney General Letitia James, his scheme was exposed and he has now admitted his guilt. I will continue to work with Attorney General James to root out public corruption across the state.”
Thomas pleaded guilty to charges of Attempted Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class A misdemeanor, and Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the Second Degree, a class A misdemeanor. The guilty plea is in satisfaction of an indictment filed in Westchester County that stemmed from a joint investigation conducted by the Office of the Attorney General and the New York State Office of the Comptroller.
As part of the plea agreement, Thomas admitted that he knowingly and unlawfully appropriated contributions totaling approximately $13,000 from his campaign committee, the Friends of Richard Thomas, during his 2015 mayoral candidacy, for his own personal use.
Thomas also admitted that he knowingly and falsely filed a 27 Day Post-General Disclosure report with the New York State Board of Elections, where he admitted that he did not disclose that he received a $4,000 payment from his campaign committee. On that report, Thomas also claimed to have received a $2,500 reimbursement payment from his campaign committee, but he did not expend personal funds warranting such reimbursement.
Since 2011, The Attorney General’s Office and the State Comptroller’s Office have worked together to fight corruption through their Joint Task Force on Public Integrity. They have brought charges against dozens of individuals implicated in public corruption schemes around the state – resulting in the return of over $11 million in restitution to taxpayers through these convictions.
The investigation was handled by Investigator Angel LaPorte, under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Sylvia Rivera and Deputy Chief Investigator John McManus. The Attorney General’s Investigations Division is led by Acting Chief Investigator John Reidy. Assisting in the investigation and providing forensic auditing analysis was former Senior Auditor Investigator Alex Ozechowski, under the supervision of Deputy Chief Auditor Sandy Bizzarro. The Forensic Audit Section is led by Chief Auditor Edward J. Keegan, Jr. Also assisting in the investigation was Analyst Rebecca Saber and former analyst Katharine Litka.
The prosecution was handled for the Attorney General’s Office by Assistant Attorney General Brian P. Weinberg, Special Counsel to the Public Integrity Bureau, and Assistant Attorney General Meagan E. Powers under the supervision of Public Integrity Bureau Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz. The Public Integrity Bureau is overseen by Chief Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice José Maldonado.
The Comptroller’s investigation was conducted by the Comptroller’s Division of Investigations.