MOUNT VERNON – An independent attorney for the city of Mount Vernon filed a civil lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court alleging that former Mayor Ernie Davis and several current and former Mount Vernon officials forged documents, stole records and mismanaged $6 million in federal housing funds related to the city’s Urban Renewal Agency.
Current Councilmen André Wallace and Marcus Griffith are accused of breaking into the locked room of former Urban Renewal Agency Executive Director Jaime Martinez, Friday, February 26, 2016 and stealing confidential agency files, according to the lawsuit. The two council members (who were labeled suspect 1 and suspect 2 on original police report filed that night) were allegedly seen loading the URA files and documents into a vehicle that was being operated by Martinez, Mount Vernon’s only Hispanic Commissioner, who was fired and escorted from City Hall earlier in the day, without a chance to gather his personal belongings.
“How is it that City Council members, can be considered intruders to City Hall? Let it be known that the City Council is the body that assigns and allocates rooms in City Hall to ALL officials and departments, including the Mayor,” former Council President Marcus A. Griffith shared with BW after the Feb. 26, 2016 incident.
According to the lawsuit, former Public Safety Commissioner Robert Kelly told the officers not to arrest the three men and let them leave with all the documents, the lawsuit says. The ensuing police report was altered four times over the course of four days and didn’t mention Martinez’s name.
Frank Acocella, Esq., an independent counsel to the URA said Saturday at press conference at his Purchase, NY office located at 2900 Westchester Ave # 405, that Mt. Vernon Mayor Thomas, who himself is currently facing grand larceny corruption charges by the NYS Attorney’s office, was the one who helped discover the alleged misuse of federal funds by ex-Mayor Davis, former City Comptroller Maureen Walker and former Planning Commissioner Jaime Martinez.
“The cover-up began when Police Commissioner Kelly told officers not to arrest Griffith, Wallace and Martinez,” says Acocella. “More incredibly, Griffith, Wallace and Martinez were allowed to leave with the files from the office.”
Councilman Wallace called the allegations “absurd” and said Mayor Thomas, chairman of the five-member board that controls the URA, was “under extreme pressure” following recent legal troubles.
“I think the cheese has slid off his cracker,” Wallace said. “I’m concerned about his mental stability to operate and run this city at this time. For him to say that Councilman Griffith and myself stole any documents out of the Planning Department or renewal agency is absurd. We look forward to hearing any police officer to come forward and say that they saw us doing that.”
With the case over the Emergency Response Center at the Third Street Firehouse between the city and Councilman Wallace coming up, Monday, April 16th, Mayor Thomas returning to court for the A.G.’s corruption case, Tuesday, May 1st and the Board of Ethics report accusing Mayor Thomas of collecting more than $100,000 as a trustee of the Amani Public Charter School in violation of state education law, a dark cloud of impropriety continue in Mount Vernon City Hall. Once again BW says, the real losers in all these lawsuits and accusations are the citizens and residents of the City of Mount Vernon.
Debra Stern, Amani’s Executive Director will be stopping by the People Before Politics Radio Show, Sunday, April 8th at 6:15 PM to discuss the BOE report.
Mount Vernon’s former Mayor Ernie Davis, Comptroller Maureen Walker, Planning Commissioner Jaime Martinez, Police Commissioner Robert Kelly, and sitting-Council Members André Wallace and Marcus Griffith, along with several developers, are named as defendants in the case.
Stay tuned to Black Westchester for more on this developing story!
See entire lawsuit below…