Questions remain over legality of City Council's removal of ex-Mayor Richard Thomas

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MOUNT VERNON -

Former Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas is questioning the legality of the City Council's decision to remove him from office.

The Mount Vernon City Council voted Thomas out of office and swore in Council President Andre Wallace as interim mayor.

City Comptroller Deborah Reynolds, a longtime adversary of Thomas, said when the mayor plead guilty to two campaign finance-related charges on Monday, he violated the city's charter, which states: "Any officer or employee who willfully violates or evades any provision of the law, or the chapter....shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and, in addition to the penalties imposed by law, shall on conviction forfeit his office or employment."

Thomas' plea deal with state prosecutors required him to step down by Sept. 30.

John Murtagh, a partner at Gaines, Novick Law Firm, told News 12 the charter does not give the City Council the right to remove him.

"The only one explicitly given that power is the governor," Murtagh says. "However, it also does say that if you're convicted of a misdemeanor, you will forfeit your office....in this case, the mayor's office. It doesn't say when."

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