Mt. Vernon City Council agrees to pay Richard Thomas to drop lawsuits

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Richard Thomas has agreed to drop lawsuits against the city of Mount Vernon in exchange for the City Council agreeing to pay him tens of thousands of dollars.

The agreement comes as two city officials claim they're now the current mayor of Mount Vernon.

MORE: Position of Mount Vernon acting mayor remains up for debate
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MORE: Mount Vernon City Council ousts acting Mayor Andre Wallace after 1 day 

The City Council’s newly appointed acting Mayor Lisa Copeland called a special meeting of the Board of Estimate and Contract, accepting the resignation of Thomas and voting to pay him a $35,000 settlement to drop litigation against the city.

The legality of the meeting is in question. The City Council appointed Copeland as acting mayor and removed Andre Wallace, who had assumed the position. Now both claim they are in charge of the city. Last month, a judge ruled that Thomas vacated his position when he pleaded guilty to stealing campaign money.

"They are trying to give somebody hush money, and it’s ridiculous, there is no reason to pay someone who had already vacated the office,” says Wallace.

City Comptroller Deborah Reynolds sits on the board, but her seat was vacant at the meeting because she says it wasn't called by Wallace.

The question of who's in charge could be decided at a court proceeding next Thursday. Wallace asked the judge to agree that he is now the acting mayor, but Thomas has already asked to dismiss the case following today's settlement.


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