ROCHESTER, N.Y. (CBS Chicago/CBS News/AP) — Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren was indicted this week on charges she broke campaign finance rules and committed fraud during her reelection campaign three years ago.
The Friday indictment adds another layer of crisis in a city that has been reeling over its handling over the police killing of Daniel Prude, a Black man from Chicago who was visiting Rochester in March.READ MORE: Chicago Police Officer Released From Hospital After Being Shot In Shopping Center Parking Lot At North And Sheffield Avenues
Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley also announced charges against Warren’s campaign treasurer, Albert Jones Jr., and the treasurer of her political action committee, Rosalind Brooks-Harris.
The indictment dramatically increases political peril for Warren, who was already facing calls to resign for the city’s handling of the Prude’s suffocation. The Democrat is midway through her second term as the first female and second Black mayor of Rochester, a city of more than 200,000 by Lake Ontario.
New York State Board of Elections investigators had previously concluded there was “considerable evidence” that Warren, her associates and a political action committee supporting her campaign took steps to intentionally evade campaign donation limits, according to local media reports.
Doorley said Warren and the others took steps to evade contribution limits between Nov. 6, 2013 and Nov. 7, 2017.
“The indictment alleges that it was not a mistake,” Doorley told reporters.
CBS affiliate WROC-TV reported the district attorney said the legal process in this case could be a long one and the indictment was “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,” Doorley said.
The district attorney said the mayor will remain in office, but a conviction could jeopardize her law license.
“Lovely Warren is still the mayor of the City of Rochester — mayoral business needs to continue and I don’t want to dispute that,” Doorley said.
Warren had previously denied any attempt to evade campaign finance rules, blamed errors on sloppy bookkeeping and referred to the investigation as a “political witch hunt.” Her lawyer didn’t immediately return phone and email messages seeking comment Friday.
Her arraignment, on charges of scheming to defraud and violating election laws, was scheduled for Monday. If convicted, she would be removed from office.
Demonstrators have been calling for reforms and top-level resignations in Rochester since videos were released in September of Prude being handcuffed by officers on a city street.READ MORE: Indiana Attorney General Files Lawsuit To Crack Down On Harassing Robocalls, And Effort May Help In Illinois Too
Critics accused police and city officials of covering up Prude’s killing, though Warren said she had no idea the medical examiner ruled his death a homicide until Aug. 4, when she saw the video.
Prude, 41, was a Chicago resident visiting Rochester on March 23, when his brother called the police because he was having a mental health issue. From there, the moments leading up to his eventual death were all captured on police body camera.
The body cam video shows Rochester officers detaining a naked 41-year-old Daniel Prude in the early hours of March 23. Prude was ordered to lie on the ground.
Police put his hands behind his back and handcuffed him.
The video shows Prude yelling and spitting as he lies completely naked on the snow-covered ground. A white spit hood is placed on his head. Later, an officer appears to be pushing his head into the pavement.
Prude goes on to become unresponsive. He was taken to the hospital, where he died days later. His death was ruled a homicide, caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.”
In mid-September, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren abruptly fired police Chief La’Ron Singletary.
Singletary had announced his retirement just the week before – along with that of the entire police command staff. But he had planned to stay on until the end of September.
The mayor also said last month that City of Rochester Communications Director and city Corporation Counsel Tim Curtin would be suspended without pay. The reason, WROC reported, was “failure to act, inform, and follow policy and procedures.”
The city’s Office of Public Integrity was been told to launch an investigation to see if any city employees – including Warren – violated policies when it came to the investigation into Prude’s death, WROC reported. Warren also called on the U.S. Attorney’s office to conduct a federal review of the Prude case, WROC reported.MORE NEWS: Concerns Mount About Public Safety With CPD Officers Being Stripped Of Police Powers For Not Complying With COVID-19 Vaccine Reporting Rules
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. CBS News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.)