Queens city council member Ruben Wills was arrested earlier today on corruption charges stemming from a probe by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Many of the charges stem from Wills using his non-profit organization, New York 4 Life, to divert over $33,000 in government grants and campaign funds. Once the faux organization had money in their coffers, Wills went on shopping sprees at high-end retail stores. He then allegedly falsified documents to make trips to Nordstroms seem like legitimate business.
Wills faces a dozen criminal counts, including fraud, grand larceny, and falsifying business records. He could receive up to seven years for his most egregious count.
Via the Observer:
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, formally announcing corruption charges against Councilman Ruben Wills, today tore into the now-embattled Queens pol.
“The crimes Mr. Wills is accused of committing represent a shameful breach of the trust his constituents placed in him,” said Mr. Schneiderman in a statement earlier this afternoon. “New Yorkers are repeatedly asked to have faith in our leaders, and it appears that faith has been shattered once again.”
Mr. Wills was arrested as part of a “joint task force” of Mr. Schneiderman’s and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s offices, according to the announcement. The two statewide officials also cooperated last year when they indicted Mr. Wills’ former boss, State Senator Shirley Huntley, on embezzlement charges. She was later convicted and is now in jail.
Huntley didn’t simply use her ill-gotten funds for high-end shopping sprees for herself, but also her poodle who received spa treatments and fancy clothes at taxpayer expense.
This isn’t Wills’ first tap dance with the law, having pled guilty to misdemeanor criminal mischief in 2011 in which he confessed to stealing items and damaging property.
Of course, when faced with criminal charges Wills did what all Democrats do under similar circumstances – he played the race card.
“I know because of where I come from and the color I am, it doesn’t usually work like that with you guys, but I am presumed innocent and that’s what I’m going with,” Mr. Wills said today after being arraigned.
Federal investigators last year claimed in a court filing that they had been tracking as many as nine Democrats stemming from the Huntley case, which eventually saw the disgraced pol wear a wire to record conversations with her colleagues.