Suit accuses ex-mayor and officials of forgery, mismanagement

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An independent attorney for the city of Mount Vernon alleges in a civil lawsuit that former Mayor Ernie Davis and other officials forged documents, stole records and mismanaged $6 million in federal housing funds related to the city's Urban Renewal Agency.

The suit was filed Friday in U.S. District Court. Initial issues with the URA funds were uncovered in January 2016 by current Mayor Richard Thomas after he took office. It was uncovered that vital information regarding the the status of the agency with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development had been actively concealed from his office and the citizens of Mount Vernon.

City attorney Frank Acocella said Saturday that Mt. Vernon Mayor Thomas, who himself is currently facing grand larceny charges, was the one who helped discover the alleged misuse of federal funds by ex-Mayor Davis, former City Comptroller Maureen Walker and former Planning Commissioner Jaime Martinez.

The civil suit also claims that City Council members Andre Wallace and Marcus Griffith broke into Martinez's URA office in 2016 to steal important files, and afterward allegedly covered it up with the help of Police Commissioner Robert Kelly.

"The coverup began when Police Commissioner Kelly told officers not to arrest Griffith, Wallace and Martinez," says Acocella. "More incredibly, Griffith, Wallace and Martinez were allowed to leave with the files from the office."

Attorneys for the city would not answer any questions other than to say the investigation is ongoing.

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