Politics

Democrat Mayor Lovely Warren Indicted By Grand Jury On Alleged Campaign Finance Violations

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Mayor Lovely Warren and two of her political associates, including the finance director for the city of Rochester, have been indicted on felony charges connected to campaign finance violations alleged to have occurred during Warren’s 2017 re-election run, the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office made public on Friday.

The three of them face two charges, including illegal coordination between political committees for the purpose of evading donor limits and participating in a scheme to defraud in the first degree.

Both are classified as nonviolent Class E felonies, which carry penalties that range from no jail time, to probation, to up to four years in prison.

The associates indicted with Warren include Albert Jones Jr., who was Warren’s campaign treasurer, and Rosalind Brooks, who was the treasurer of a political action committee created by Warren called Warren for a Strong Rochester. Brooks, who also goes by Rosalind Brooks-Harris, is the city’s finance director.

They are scheduled to be arraigned on Monday in Monroe County before a Cayuga County judge, who will preside over the case.

The charges were handed up by a grand jury Friday that two weeks ago heard evidence in a case brought by District Attorney Sandra Doorley, who was acting on the recommendation of a scathing state Board of Elections investigation.

That probe concluded in a 35-page report, forwarded to Doorley in March, that, “Considerable evidence supports a finding that Lovely Warren, Albert Jones Jr., Rosalind Brooks … and others engaged in a scheme to evade contribution limits.”

In releasing the indictment during a news conference at her office, Doorley recognized the significance of charges being filed against a sitting mayor, and took pains to say that the case against Warren would proceed appropriately.

“We are here to be transparent and upfront with the people of Monroe County,” Doorley said. “We are not here to conduct a trial in the media.”

A spokesperson for the mayor did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Michael Schiano, an attorney for Brooks-Harris, said he had not seen the indictment and that his client was innocent of the charges.

“We will fight this to our fullest extent,” Schiano said. “My client is not guilty of these allegations.”

The charges come at a precarious time for Warren, whose administration has been under siege for a month over its handling, and mishandling, of the death of Daniel Prude. Local activists have called for her resignation and national media have questioned her leadership.

Prude was suffocated by Rochester police during a mental health arrest in March and died a week later, although the matter was not publicly disclosed until a lawyer representing his family brought it to light in September.

Warren has said she did not know the true circumstances of Prude’s death until August, and that she was barred from publicly discussing the incident by a state law that compelled the state attorney general to investigate the case. State Attorney General Letitia James has sharply rejected the mayor’s rationale for keeping Prude’s death a secret.

A 325-page dossier compiled by her deputy mayor, James Smith, ostensibly to bolster the mayor’s justification for her actions and to insulate her from criticism, laid out in detail how the highest levels of the Rochester Police Department … (Read more)

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