FRIDAY, MAY 24, 2019 – A Westchester County grand jury declined to indict Mayor Richard W. Thomas in the case of the use of Mount Vernon Water Department funds for Mayor Thomas’ personal legal bills, his lawyers said late Friday afternoon.
According to his attorneys, Mayor Thomas was informed by the New York Attorney General’s Office that the Grand Jury investigating the City of Mount Vernon Water Department issued a “No Bill” and determined not to indict Mayor Thomas on any criminal charges despite relentless efforts by the Attorney General’s Office, according to press release by Carolyn G of the CDG Agency.
Attorneys Michael A. Pizzi, Benedict P. Kuehne and Douglas J. Martino said the Grand Jury cleared Mayor Thomas of any wrongdoing and found no evidence to support any charges against Mayor Thomas in connection with the Attorney General Grand jury investigation.
“We are happy that the Grand jury found no wrongdoing on the Mayor’s part and that Mayor Thomas did not commit any crimes,” said Michael Pizzi. The allegations against the Mayor were baseless and this matter was an unfair attempt to distract Mayor Thomas from leading Mount Vernon to a brighter future.”
“On the occasion of this Memorial Day Weekend, I am proud that my faith in our system of justice has been reaffirmed. The message is that the City and its Mayor and Water Department will always defend itself against false accusations and fight for the City’s honor,” said Mayor Thomas. “ I am glad that this process is over, and I look forward to obtaining vindication in my upcoming trial on charges where I did not get the chance to appear before that Grand Jury. In this latest investigation, I demanded to appear before the Grand Jury and tell my story. And the truth set me free. The City’s of New York and Yonkers have recently defended their Mayors with no objection.”
Mayor Thomas and his attorneys maintain that Thomas received sound counsel from the Mount Vernon Corporation Council in connection with the water department payments at issue, according to the statement.
“I believe and still believe that I received sound advice from my Corporation Counsel, on all matters. Our Corporation Counsel has always shown great integrity and insured that our over 100-year-old charter was followed and that the independence of our Water Departments was preserved, Thomas said.
In this latest development in latest the corruption case that had been dragging on for more than a year, Mayor Tomas testified before the grand jury last week.
The pending case involves allegations that the Mount Vernon mayor allegedly stole campaign funds and lying about money he diverted from his inaugural committee for personal benefit. Mr. Thomas was arrested on a felony complaint this morning after an investigation that exposed the theft of approximately $12,900 from his campaign committee, and the diversion of over $45,000 from his inaugural committee for personal use and his failure to disclose it.
Mayor Thomas who is running for re-election, last week rejected a final plea offer that would have allowed him to avoid incarceration if he pleaded to a misdemeanor and one of the six felony charges he is facing and stepped down as mayor. He also could have had the felony conviction expunged if he successfully completed a period of probation.
Mayor Thomas has maintained his innocence all along. Jury selection in corruption case is scheduled to begin July 8 – two weeks after the Democratic primary for mayor.
Thomas will face City Council President André Wallace, former city police commissioner Clyde Isley and former Mount Vernon Planning Commissioner Shawyn Patterson-Howard, who runs the Yonkers YMCA in the June 25th Democratic primary. Councilwoman Delia Farquharson and former Mayor Ernie Davis have been knocked off the ballot, according to the Westchester County Board of Elections. Both are still campaigning.
Stay tuned to Black Westchester for more on this developing story.