The mayor of Rochester, New York, was indicted for felony campaign finance fraud Friday.
During her 2017 campaign, Lovely Warren allegedly used political action committee (PAC) funds for campaign purposes in excess of the allowed $8,557. She’s charged with first-degree scheme to defraud and illegally coordinating activities and expenditures.
Warren called the allegations a “political witch hunt” in a press conference held before news of the indictment broke and denied any wrongdoing, according to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley did not specify how much money Warren used from her PAC, but said it was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The DA also charged Warren’s campaign treasurer Albert Jones Jr. and the city’s finance director, Rosalind Brook-Harris, who is also treasurer for the PAC Warren for a Strong Rochester. A lobbyist who worked with Warren testified before a grand jury that he informed Warren and her campaign of the illegality of the way they used their funds, according to the Democrat & Chronicle.
If convicted, Warren faces removal from office, disbarment, loss of her pension, and up to four years in prison. Her mayoral term is set to expire in 2021. Two of Warren’s challengers in the 2017 race had filed complaints against her with the New York State Board of Elections, which in part led to the investigation and charges.
Warren faces questions not only regarding her campaign but also in the death of Daniel Prude, a 41-year-old Black man, in Rochester police custody in March. Though police had video of the suffocation, they worked to conceal it from the public, and the footage was not released until September.
Warren fired the city’s police chief La’Ron Singletary over his handling of the matter, saying he failed to inform her of the details of the incident. Singletary has maintained he did brief Warren on the matter, calling the honesty of the two municipal officials into question.