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Rochester Mayor Indicted in Felony Campaign Finance Fraud

Mayor Lovely A. Warren speaks to media in Rochester, N.Y., September 3, 2020. (Lindsay DeDario/Reuters)

Rochester, N.Y. mayor Lovely Warren has been indicted on charges she broke campaign finance rules and committed fraud during her 2017 reelection campaign, the Monroe County District Attorney announced Friday.

One charge is for a scheme to defraud in the first degree, while another is an election law offense for illegally coordinating activities and expenditures, the Democrat and Chronicle reported.

The Democrat’s campaign treasurer, Albert Jones Jr., and the treasurer of her political action committee, Rosalind Brooks-Harris, face charges as well, district attorney Sandra Doorley said.

A State Board of Elections probe had previously found that there was “considerable evidence” that Warren, her associates, and a political action committee supporting her campaign had worked to purposely evade campaign donation limits.

Warren, the first female mayor of Rochester, has previously denied the allegations, calling the investigation a “political witch hunt.” 

If convicted, Warren would be removed from office under state law and could face a maximum sentence of 16 months to four years in prison, though she is unlikely to be incarcerated. Her pension and law license could both be forfeited if the alleged scheme is found to be a crime related to public office.

Halfway through her second term, Warren has already been met with growing calls to resign over the city’s handling of the death of Daniel Prude, a black man who died of suffocation in March after police reportedly placed a “spit hood” over his head and pressed his face into the pavement for two minutes.

Critics have accused police and city officials of covering up the circumstances of Prude’s death, with the case attracting renewed attention last month when Prude’s family released body-camera video of the incident. 

The Mayor had claimed she was unaware the medical examiner had ruled the death a homicide until August 4, when she saw the video.

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