Mount Vernon Mayor Richard W. Thomas’ Article 78 petition seeking to declare the Attorney General office’s felony complaint against him was issued in violation of lawful procedure was denied by Supreme Court Justice Arthur F. Engoron, Monday afternoon (see ruling below).
Mayor Thomas attempted to use Eric Schneiderman’s resignation to his advantage, claiming Acting Attorney General Barbara Underwood has no authority to prosecute him on corruption charges.
“As a result of the Attorney General resigning abruptly under a cloud of impropriety, there is no attorney general,” Thomas says in an emergency lawsuit to block the ongoing investigation, Monday, May 14th.
Judge Engoron ruled the AG’s office can upon request of the Comptroller, “investigate the alleged commission of any indictable offense in violation of the law, which the Comptroller is required to execute and to prosecute the person or persons believed to have committed the crime or any offense arising out of investigation….”
The judge goes on to rule, if the Court were forced to decide if the AG had authority to investigate, it would decide it did not. However on May 16, 2018, a Westchester Grand Jury indicted Mayor Thomas for fraud. As a result of the indictment, what had been an attempt to prevent an investigation is now a collateral attack on a criminal case pending in another county. The “investigation” has become a “prosecution.”
Schneiderman resigned, Monday, May 7th as state AG last week after a New Yorker report detailed four women’s accusations that he emotionally and physically abused them. Hours later Mayor Thomas called for an investigation of Scheiderman.
Former Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced the arrest of Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas for allegedly stealing campaign funds and lying about money he diverted from his inaugural committee for personal benefit. Mr. Thomas was arrested on a felony complaint Monday. March 12th 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.
By way of an Order to Show Cause, mayor Thomas commenced the instant CPLR Article 78 Petition asking the court to declare the Comptroller and Ag did not have the authority to investigate the Funds as Comptroller’s authority is limited to state funds, and it cannot confer upon the AG authority which itself does not process and to declare Acting Attorney General Barbara Underwood(respondent), in her (alleged?) (contested?) official capacity as Acting AG does not have legal authority to carry out the enforcement actions such as seeking an indictment from a grand jury.
Two days later, on Wednesday, May 16th, Mayor Thomas was indicted by a grand jury, Wednesday on charges that he stole campaign funds and failed to disclose his receipt of inaugural funds that he used for personal expenses. Thomas will be arraigned, Friday, May 25th at White Plains County Court, Room 303 at 9:30AM, before Judge Barry Warhit.
The case which was originally scheduled for May 1st has been adjourned to Friday, June 1st, by the judge. The case was assigned to Judge Ann E. Minihan.