Thursday, July 18, 2019

"Mt. Vernon Has 2 Mayors and a Police Chief Arrested by His Own Officers"

The NY Times on a nesting doll of alleged corruption:
To say that Mount Vernon, the third largest city in Westchester County, is in disarray would barely scratch the surface. And at the core of the turmoil is Mr. Thomas, a self-described young disrupter who promised to bring fresh perspective to the government.

His tenure, however, was often rocky, and the tipping point came in 2018, when he was accused of stealing more than $12,000 from his campaign committee. Mr. Thomas pleaded guilty


As part of his plea agreement with the New York attorney general’s office, Mr. Thomas must vacate office no later than Sept. 30. But the Mount Vernon City Council did not want to wait that long: Citing the City Charter, which held that Mr. Thomas’s guilty plea automatically disqualified him from office, the Council quickly appointed Mr. Wallace, the Council president, as acting mayor.

One tiny glitch: Mr. Thomas has not budged, claiming his plea agreement permits him to remain mayor.

“This is a fight against dirty politics,” Mr. Thomas said


His criminal defense lawyer, Michael Pizzi, said the Council was wrong in its interpretation, and that Mr. Thomas had every right to remain in office until Sept. 30.

Lawrence Porcari, the city’s corporation counsel, concurred


Then again, Mr. Porcari’s impartiality could be in question: He was arrested and indicted by the attorney general’s office in May on charges that he directed $365,000 away from the Mount Vernon Board of Water Supply to pay Mr. Thomas’s legal bills, and hire a public relations firm.


In 2014, Mr. Thomas’s predecessor as mayor, Ernest D. Davis, pleaded guilty to federal charges for failing to file personal and corporate tax returns, but the City Council did not invoke the charter’s rules then, and he was permitted to finish out his term. At the time, Mr. Thomas called for Mr. Davis to be removed from office.