Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren will resign from office by Dec. 1 after accepting the terms of a plea deal in court on Monday where she faced charges over alleged campaign finance violations, Rochester First reported.
Warren, along with two assistants, Albert Jones Jr., her campaign treasurer, and Rosiland Brooks-Harris, political action committee treasurer and Rochester finance director, were each accused of violating election laws when they accepted campaign contributions that exceeded legal limits.
Warren faced two felony counts, including scheme to defraud in the first degree, and violation of election law 14-126 related to the alleged campaign finance violations during her 2017 mayoral reelection efforts.
According to 2017 expenditures of Warren’s political action committee, Warren for a Stronger Rochester PAC, $30,000 was transferred from the PAC to her committee, Friends of Lovely Warren.
The mayor had previously denied allegations that she violated campaign finance rules, and claimed the money was accidentally placed in the PAC through a “PayPal error,” or bookkeeping mistake.
As part of the deal offered to Warren by the prosecution on Monday, the mayor pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a 12-month conditional discharge. Both Jones Jr. and Brooks-Harris have also pleaded guilty in the case.
Warren’s attorney Mike Schiano said prosecutors were adamant she resign from office as part of the deal.
“We talked about it over the weekend, but they approached us with that offer and we hammered it through,” defense attorney Schiano said, according to Spectrum News.
“They wanted a resignation,” Schiano said. “That was what the sticking point of the DA’s office was. They wanted that done.”
Warren’s plea deal will also settle a weapons and child endangerment charge Warren faces relating to a place search on the home she shared with her now estranged husband Timothy Granison in May.
New York State Police executed a search warrant at the home as part of an ongoing investigation into Granison who authorities say is part of a drug trafficking ring in Rochester. Police allegedly recovered a rifle and pistol inside, and found Warren’s 10-year-old daughter alone.
Both Warren and her husband were charged with criminal possession of a firearm, endangering the welfare of a child, and failure to secure the firearm.
At the time, Warren said she had no knowledge of her husband’s alleged illegal activity and that they had been separated for some time. Both Warren and Granison later pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Warren was set to leave office in January after losing in June’s primary to current City Councilmember Malik Evans, who is the next presumptive mayor of Rochester. Deputy Mayor James Smith will become mayor of Rochester for a month now that Warren is stepping down from the role.
Following Monday’s guilty plea, Warren took to Facebook to post: “Leaving the past behind and looking forward to a brighter future. Thank you, Rochester. We’ve accomplished a lot together, but in the end, I thank God that I’m able to choose family over everything.”
Her defense attorney Joe Damelio also told reporters that the mayor is “not a drug dealer” or irresponsible “gun-toting person” who is incapable of looking after her child.
“Moreover, she is that person who looks after her child and is concerned for her child and that’s part of the reason she entered a plea today,” he added.
Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Jacob Ark also urged the community to move on from the case and put the past behind them.
“I think it’s time for our community and our city to put this past us,” Ark said. “And the mayor was willing and the co-defendants were willing to take responsibility and did so today. We found it to be an equitable resolution.”