Mount Vernon mayor rejects plea deal, will stand trial
It was a dramatic day in court Friday where Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas emphatically rejected a plea deal that would have kept him out of jail.
"I'm walking out on faith and not by sight. I believe in God and believe in everything I've done up to this date has been legal, ethical and moral," he says.
Thomas' legal battles have dragged on for more than a year. The first term mayor was arrested in March 2018 and charged by the state attorney general with six felonies for allegedly using his campaign and inaugural account funds for personal use. He is accused of using thousands of dollars in campaign funds to pay rent and take vacations.
The attorney general offered him a deal that would have had him pleading guilty to a felony and misdemeanor and paying restitution. The judge also said under the agreement, the felony would've been expunged from his record.
After months of delays, Judge Barry Warhit demanded that Thomas accept or reject the plea deal on the table, saying the mayor would have no more chances to do so before going to trial.
By rejecting the deal, Thomas is undoubtedly rolling the dice. He insists that he is the real victim and is resting his fate in the hands of a jury.
Jury selection will begin on July 8. That's less than two weeks after the June primary where Thomas is one of four candidates on the ballot.