Created: October 02, 2020 06:21 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and two other members of her 2017 campaign team are facing felony fraud charges.
The mayor, Albert Jones and city finance director Rosalind Brooks-Harris were indicted Friday by a grand jury for breaking campaign finance laws during the mayor's last campaign in 2017.
Indictments are allegations not convictions.
But the Monroe County District Attorney says over a four year period, the mayor, Jones and Brooks-Harris schemed to raise more money than allowed and funneled it through a fraudulent committee to get an unfair advantage in the election.
"We are here to be upfront and transparent with the people of Monroe County," Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley said shortly after the grand jury rising.
Here's how we can explain what happened.
The mayor had a re-election committee called "Friends of Lovely Warren." People and companies could donate a maximum of $8,557 to her campaign.
In 2015, a political action committee started "Warren for a Stronger Rochester." Eventually, that name changed to "PAC for a Stronger Community."
The PAC could donate a maximum of $8,557 to the mayor's campaign.
The allegation by the DA's office and the indictment is the donors who maxed out donations to the mayor's campaign account donated thousands to the PAC and the PAC spent money directly to the mayor's campaign.
Brean: "How much money are we talking about here?"
Doorley: "I'm not prepared to give that number to the press at this point."
Sandra Doorley deferred to her prosecutors.
Jacob Ark, Assistant DA: "The political action committee, as well as the campaign itself, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars."
Albert Jones and Rosalind Brooks-Harris were also indicted.
Jones was the treasurer of "Friends of Lovely Warren."
Brooks-Harris was the treasurer of the PAC.
Brooks-Harris is the city's finance director. During the election, she was the city's deputy finance director.
Brean: "Was any campaign activity conducted at City Hall?"
Doorley: "I'm not going to comment on that Berkeley."
Brean: "Are you looking into something like that?"
Doorley: "Again, I'm can't comment at this point."
After official complaints filed by her opponents, Rachel Barnhart and James Sheppard, during the 2017 campaign, the mayor said it was an accounting mistake. On Sept. 1, 2020, the mayor called the investigation political.
"Come January I'll be running for reelection and I believe this is a political witch hunt," Mayor Warren said.
The DA answered this Friday.
"I think the indictment alleges this was not a mistake," Doorley said. "It is not political. I am simply doing my job."
The mayor, Jones and Brooks-Harris will be in front of a judge Monday at 4 p.m. The arraignment will be at the Hall of Justice, but to avoid conflict, the defendants will be arraigned by Cayuga County Court Judge Thomas Leone.
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