Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas pleaded not guilty on Friday to felony grand larceny and filing false instruments charges at his arraignment in Westchester County Court in White Plains.
Thomas is accused of stealing from his campaign and inaugural funds for personal use, including for a family trip and personal expenses. He is charged with four counts of grand larceny and four counts of filing false instruments. He was indicted last week by a county grand jury on allegations that he stole about $12,900 from his campaign committee, diverted more than $45,000 from his inaugural committee and falsified disclosure reports with the state Board of Elections and Mount Vernon Board of Ethics. Thomas is alleged to have stolen funds from October 2015 through January 2016. The indictment is No. 18-0522.
Earlier, his attorney, Boies Schiller Flexner partner Randall W. Jackson petitioned under Article 78 to have a felony complaint filed in March by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman—based on an investigation by his office and that of Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli—thrown out on grounds that Schneiderman acted beyond his authority. The petition also claimed that then-Acting Attorney General Barbara Underwood, who has since been appointed interim AG by the state Legislature, also lacked authority to pursue the case. But a Supreme Court Justice in Manhattan dismissed the petition on Monday, saying that he would have agreed that Schneiderman acted outside his authority but his was not the right court to hear the issue, and the grand jury had handed up an indictment on May 16.
Assistant Attorney General Brian Weinberg, special counsel to the public integrity bureau, was prosecutor of record at the arraignment before County Court Judge Barry Warhit on May 25. Attempts to obtain comment from the New York AG Office and defense attorney Jackson were unsuccessful.
At a news conference after the arraignment, Jackson said that “we appreciated the Supreme Court’s determination” that the AG operated outside the scope of its jurisdiction suggesting that would be an element in the defense. Thomas thanked his supporters who were assembled there, including his wife.
Clarification: This story has been updated in the fourth paragraph to more precisely characterize the Manhattan Supreme Court judge’s decision denying the Thomas petition under Article 78.