Former Metropolis Councilmember Ruben Wills, who was convicted of fraud and grand larceny and served two years in jail, is eyeing a political comeback after a State Appeals Courtroom reversed his conviction and returned the case to Queens Supreme Courtroom.
His entrance would probably upend a race the place the present Metropolis Councilmember Adrienne Adams is working unopposed within the Democratic major. Wills has identify recognition and a narrative of alleged injustice that might resonate with voters.
Adams, who has lower than $40,000 in her checking account, in response to marketing campaign finance information, hasn’t responded but to a request for remark.
Council District 28 consists of the Queens neighborhoods of Jamaica, Richmond Hill, Rochdale Village and South Ozone Park. Wills, 49, was first elected in 2010. He went to jail in 2017 after a jury discovered he used public cash awarded to his non-profit, in addition to marketing campaign finance matching funds, on private bills like a designer bag.
An Appeals Courtroom ruling discovered that in his trial Wills was “disadvantaged of his ‘proper to current proof by witnesses of [his] personal selecting [which] is a elementary ingredient of due course of.’”
A spokesperson for Lawyer Normal Leticia James stated prosecutors haven’t determined but whether or not or to not retry the case. Wills’s lawyer, Kevin O’Donnell, stated his shopper had served his sentence and it wouldn’t be smart to spend public funds on an costly second trial.
“Even when we went to trial and he was convicted the choose would give him the identical sentence and he already served it,” stated O’Donnell. “I’m not certain the trouble is definitely worth the outcome and I actually hope the Lawyer Normal’s workplace sees it the best way I do.”
The Metropolis Council handed a invoice earlier this month that disqualifies individuals convicted of sure felonies, together with those who contain public corruption, from working for public places of work which the mayor is predicted to signal into regulation on Wednesday. It is going to forestall different potential candidates, together with former State Senator and Metropolis Councilmember Hiram Monserrate, from working for workplace — however not Wills as a result of his conviction was reversed.
He instructed Gothamist/WNYC that he thinks the regulation was designed to profit these presently in energy.
“I am disillusioned in, you realize, individuals who profess to be progressive for the sake of carrying a progressive banner, however then flip round and cross a invoice that stops individuals from having second possibilities simply to guard the incumbency,” he stated.
He additionally stated his expertise in jail has impressed him to reform prison justice insurance policies and what he described as “judicial indifference,” and enhance situations for these behind bars.
Whereas in a piece launch program, Wills stated he examined optimistic for a drug that’s given to people who find themselves hooked on opioids and was despatched again to Sing Sing. It was later revealed that hundreds of state prisoners had been subjected to defective drug assessments. Wills stated he was a kind of people.
“I believe that my objective, the explanation I went by that is to ensure that is highlighted. I do not symbolize Ruben Wills,” he stated. “I symbolize two or 300 thousand younger males that appear like me, which have gone by these doorways of the halls of injustice each single day for the previous, I don’t know what number of years.”
Throughout his tenure on the Metropolis Council, Wills had a repute for being excessively absent. Politico New York filed a Freedom of Data Legislation Request and located that in fiscal yr 2016, he was current at work solely 28% of the time. Wills stated on the time he was affected by well being issues which might be not a problem.
“There’s no points with my well being that will forestall me from doing something,” Wills stated. “I’ve made nice strides or enchancment in bodily well being.”
If he decides to run for his previous Council seat, Wills should accumulate a minimal of 270 legitimate petition signatures by March twenty fifth; candidates will start accumulating petitions subsequent week.