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Mount Vernon mayor rejects plea offer, insists he wants day in courtPosted: Updated:
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas brushed aside a plea offer Tuesday from the attorney general, insisting he wants his day in court.
Thomas was given the chance to end the criminal case against him Tuesday by pleading guilty to a felony, being placed on probation and resigning immediately.
The deal presented by lawyers from the Attorney General's Office was soundly rejected, as Thomas and his lawyers insisted outside court that he is an innocent man.
Thomas is facing six felony counts for allegedly using his campaign and inaugural accounts for his own personal use. He was arrested in March, but since then the case has been mired in controversy.
Judge Barry Warhit ruled Tuesday that he would allow Mike Pizzi and Ben Kuehne, Thomas’ Florida legal team, to try the case even though he was concerned they might be conflicted because they also represent Joe Spiezio, a close ally of the mayor and a potential witness in the case.
The mayor’s lawyers called the plea offer unconstitutional. They believe forcing the mayor out of office is wrong.
“The criminal justice system doesn't stand as a veto of the people. The public elected Mayor Thomas by an overwhelming margin and only the public can decide if he's fit for office,” says Kuehne.
No trial date has been set. Lawyers for both side will be in court on Jan. 18.