The Democratic mayor of Rochester, New York, who proposed partially defunding her city’s police department last month, has been indicted by a grand jury for alleged campaign violations.
WROC-TV reported that following a multi-year investigation into Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, the district attorney has charged the Democrat with two felonies stemming from her 2017 re-election campaign.
Warren will face one felony charge of scheme to defraud in the first degree and a second felony charge over an alleged violation of New York election law 14-126(6), which involves campaign filings and finance.
While few specifics of the charges against Warren were offered, officials said they are in relation to hundreds of thousands of dollars raised during the mayor’s first term between November 2013 and November 2017.
Both alleged crimes are classified as class E felonies, and each could carry a punishment of up to four years behind bars.
Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley, who announced the charges Friday, also said punishments could be less severe, and could include probation, restitution or split sentencing should Warren be convicted.
WROC reported, “According to 2017 expenditures of Warren’s political action committee, Warren for a Stronger Rochester PAC, $30,000 was transferred from the PAC to her committee, Friends of Lovely Warren.”
The station added, “New York State has strict rules forbidding PACs and committees from coordinating. Warren’s campaign claims the money was earmarked for Friends of Lovely Warren, but was accidentally placed in the PAC account through a ‘PayPal error,’ or a clerical mistake.”
Doorley said she did not feel the alleged campaign violations were a mistake.
“We all want our elections to be run fair and these are laws on the books to allow and ensure that people who are entering political office follow the rules so that there is equal access to everyone,” Doorley said. “There are certain rules about coordinating campaign funds. These are important. We all want fair campaigns. This is allegedly a scheme to defraud.”
Warren had not yet been arrested at of Friday afternoon, but arrangements were being made to process her.
Two other individuals are also being charged in the case: Albert Jones Jr. and Rochester Finance Director Rosiland Brooks-Harris both face identical charges to those of Warren.
“This is an indictment, not a conviction — these are simply allegations of violations of the law,” Doorley said. “I don’t think this will be anything resolved quickly.”
“I was presented the facts, we handled it as we would any other case, and I am simply doing my job.”
The DA continued, “This is not political. … I am the chief law enforcement official in Monroe County. I was presented the facts, we handled it as we would any other case, and I am simply doing my job.”
Warren became the subject of national media attention following the death of Daniel Prude, who was asphyxiated as police tried to take him into protective custody following a mental health call, according to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
Prude was reportedly walking around naked with PCP in his system when officers found him, at which point he allegedly started spitting and claiming he had the coronavirus.
A spit bag was placed over his head, and the medical examiner ruled he died of “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint,” according to WROC-TV reporter Kayla Green.
The medical examiner’s report says cause of death was due to “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint” & PCP. The lawyers only mentioned PCP, I asked about asphyxia they say they‘re looking into the medical evidence and don’t know why that’s listed @News_8
— Kayla Green (@KaylaGreen04) October 1, 2020
The details of the case were released last month, causing protesters to take to the streets:
NEW YORK: learning from Portland, Rochester Antifa bring homemade riot shields and create defensive lines as they bang on barriers to agitate police and draw them out pic.twitter.com/yOVvDdYMBs
— ELIJAH RIOT (@ElijahSchaffer) September 12, 2020
— Brendan Gutenschwager (@BGOnTheScene) September 13, 2020
Warren responded by calling for police reform and a partial defunding of the police department, The Sun reported.
Rochester’s police chief eventually resigned.
“We are doubling the availability of mental health professionals. We will take our family crisis intervention team out of the police department and move it and its funding to the department of youth and recreation services,” Warren said on Sept. 7, NPR reported.