Democratic Mayor Pleads Not Guilty in Campaign Felony Case


Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren pleaded not guilty on Monday to campaign finance charges related to her 2017 reelection campaign.

A lawyer for the second-term mayor entered the plea on her behalf.

Warren had been indicted Friday by a grand jury on charges of scheming to defraud and violating election laws.

Warren’s lawyer says she did not intentionally break any law and is ready to fight the charges.

“She welcomes the opportunity for the public to see whether the district attorney’s charges hold water,” attorney Joseph Damelio said outside court after the proceeding.

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Warren, a Democrat, left the court without speaking to reporters.

Warren, mayor of the Lake Ontario city of more than 200,000 people, was arraigned in Monroe County Court. She said she had no questions when asked by the judge.

If convicted, she could be sentenced to up to four years in prison, lose her law license and be removed from office, according to the district attorney, Sandra Doorley.

Warren is not planning to resign, Damelio said, and “her ability to govern has not been impaired.”

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Warren’s campaign treasurer, Albert Jones Jr., and Rosalind Brooks-Harris, the treasurer of a political action committee that backed Warren, also pleaded not guilty in Monroe County Court.

All are accused of taking steps to evade contribution limits between Nov. 6, 2013, and Nov. 7, 2017.

Prosecutors have declined to say how much money was involved, though Doorley said Friday that “it could be substantial.” Motions will be argued Jan. 12.

Doorley had said Friday that election officials began fielding complaints about Warren’s campaign finances in 2017, when the incumbent defeated two challengers in a Democratic primary prior to her reelection.

Doorley said the state Board of Elections presented a 35-page report in March “that found considerable evidence” that Warren, Jones and Brooks-Harris may have broken the law.

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The grand jury was seated in September.

Warren previously blamed any errors on sloppy bookkeeping and called the lengthy investigation a “political witch hunt.”

Doorley, a Republican, says politics did not play a role in the investigation.

Supporters who gathered outside court said they still have faith in Warren.

“She loves Rochester. She loves the community,” Joyce Pettway said.

“She would never intentionally do anything to harm the people of Rochester or embarrass them.”

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