What to Know
- Mount Vernon mayor was arraigned Monday morning, accused of stealing at least $12,000 from his own campaign fund for personal use
- Thomas has agreed to surrender his passport and will appear back in court in May
- In a press conference, Thomas denied the accusations against him
The mayor of a city in upstate New York was arraigned on criminal charges for allegedly stealing money from his own campaign fund, according to the New York Attorney General's Office.
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas was arraigned Monday morning, accused of stealing about $12,900 from his 2015 campaign committee for his personal use. The Attorney General's Office says Thomas also diverted more than $45,000 from his inaugural committee for personal use.
Thomas is also charged for allegedly lying on his reports to the Board of Elections and on his City of Mount Vernon financial disclosures.
The New York State Attorney General's Office charged Thomas with grand larceny in the third degree, offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree and offering a false instrument for filing in the second degree.
“Mayor Thomas used his campaign and inaugural accounts as personal piggybanks – part of a long-running scheme that began during his 2015 campaign and continued throughout his time in office,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman alleged in a statement, saying Thomas used the funds to pay for cars, dinners and a Chanel purse.
Thomas has agreed to surrender his passport and will appear back in court in May.
"The allegations are not true. I want to reassure the people of Mount Vernon that this has nothing to do with my service in office as it relates to the campaign," Thomas said in a press conference outside Mount Vernon City Court shortly after his arraignment.
Thomas has become at least the eighth current or former New York or New Jersey mayor to face criminal charges in the last 16 months, following: Alex Blanco, from Passaic, New Jersey; Julianne Beckerman, from Muttontown, New York; Joey Torres, from Paterson, New Jersey; Nicholas Poliseno, from Spotswood, New Jersey; Rick Nelson, from Stillwater, New York; Dayton King, from Gloversville, New York; Thomas Cox, from Cohocton, New York.
In 2017, Thomas made headlines by feuding with his city comptroller, alleging she mismanaged city funds that lead to bounced checks for city employees.
He also made headlines in 2016 when he had a feud with a councilman over who was responsible for the skyrocketing cost of an emergency operations center that was taking longer than expected to retrofit and complete.