Mount Vernon Police Commissioner Arrested and Released in Fight Over Who Actually Runs the Town - NBC New York

Mount Vernon Police Commissioner Arrested and Released in Fight Over Who Actually Runs the Town

His arrest comes amid a strange mayoral controversy, as there are two people claiming to be leading the city

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Mount Vernon in Midst of Confusing Political Mess

    The mayor fired a police commissioner, then agreed to step down after pleading guilty in a separate scandal. The acting mayor re-appointed that police commissioner, who was arrested Tuesday because some believe the acting mayor's appointment is not valid. Now a law firm has been hired to figure out who's in charge in Mount Vernon.NBC 4 New York's Checkey Beckford reports.

    (Published Wednesday, July 17, 2019)

    What to Know

    • Mount Vernon Police boss Shawn Harris was arrested Tuesday, hours after being appointed to the role by an acting mayor some don't recognize

    • His arrest comes amid a strange mayoral controversy, as there are two people claiming to be leading the city

    • In an effort to cleanup the legal quaqmire, the city council voted Tuesday night to hire a law firm to navigate the mayoral mayhem

    Mount Vernon Police Commissioner Shawn Harris was arrested Tuesday morning, hours after being appointed to the role by an acting mayor whose authority is not recognized by some city officials. 

    Harris spent most of his first day on the job in jail before being released Tuesday evening, calling it "the worst day of (his) life."

    "It's been an embarassment for me, and my family and the great city of Mount Vernon," Harris said shortly after being released.

    His arrest capped a day of political drama in a city notorious for it. Harris was ousted from the police department by then-Mayor Richard Thomas in March, but re-appointed to the role by Acting Mayor Andre Wallace on Monday night, according to a LoHud.com report.

    On July 8, Thomas pleaded guilty to charges of attempted grand larceny and offering a false instrument for filing. As part of the agreement, Thomas admitted that he knowingly and unlawfully appropriated contributions from his campaign committee for his own personal use, according to prosecutors.

    Thomas was sentenced to pay a $13,000 fine in addition to a one-year conditional discharge. He also agreed to resign and leave office effective Sept. 30. 

    But Mount Vernon's city council ruled the office was vacant immediately because of Thomas's plea, and swore in Wallace as mayor on July 10.

    Thomas disputes that, LoHud has reported, and maintains he's still in charge. Some city officials recognize him as mayor, while others recognize Wallace.

    Meanwhile Harris was arrested for trespassing by the same officers he's supposed to lead after trying to take up his appointed post Tuesday morning. The DA has said it will not file charges and pushed for Harris's release.

    In an effort to cleanup the legal and governmental quaqmire, the city council voted Tuesday night to hire a law firm to navigate the mayoral mayhem, residents say. Media was denied access to the meeting.

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