Opening statements begin in corruption trial of Mount Vernon's former top attorney

Opening statements begin in corruption trial of Mount Vernon's former top attorney

News 12 Staff

Dec 5, 2019, 10:33 PM

Updated 1,655 days ago

Share:

The state's trial for Mount Vernon's former top attorney, who is accused of defrauding the city's Water Department, began Thursday.

Opening statements began in the state's criminal case against former Mount Vernon corporation counsel Lawrence Porcari.

Porcari is charged with corrupting the government, grand larceny, defrauding the government and offering a false instrument for filing.
He was indicted this past May.
He's accused of stealing more than $350,000 from the city's Water Department to pay then-Mayor Richard Thomas' legal fees and a public relations firm.
At that time, Thomas was under indictment for state election violations. He has since pleaded guilty and resigned.
"He chose to use his position of trust to engage in a scheme to steal from and defraud the Mount Vernon Board of Water Supply through deception and an abuse of power to divert hundreds of thousands of dollars to benefit his boss," says Brian Weinberg, special counsel for the New York State Attorney General's Office.
During opening statements, attorneys for the New York State Attorney General's Office laid out the alleged scheme, arguing Porcari wanted to please the mayor but couldn't get the funds through the proper city channels. They say he instead requested multiple checks from the Water Department, which is a separate city entity with its own budget and less financial oversight - all while knowing what he was doing was illegal.
Porcari's lawyer argues he never intended to defraud or steal from anyone.
"You're going to learn that Harry never got one dime, one penny of any of these monies," says Stephen Lewis, Lawrence Porcari's attorney.

Lewis says city officials refused to approve the payments so Porcari went to the Water Department as his only way to pay off the money the city owed. He added that the Water Department has been used to pay for non-water-related items for years.
Those expected to testify in this case include one of Thomas' former criminal attorneys, the former city Water Department commissioner, and the City Council president at the time, Lisa Copeland.

The trial is expected to last around two weeks.
MORE: ,  
 


More from News 12
0:28
​Poughkeepsie police: Man who pointed replica gun at officers disarmed, hospitalized

​Poughkeepsie police: Man who pointed replica gun at officers disarmed, hospitalized

2:11
Sunny, hot Monday kicks off scorching week in the Hudson Valley

Sunny, hot Monday kicks off scorching week in the Hudson Valley

2:09
Sleepy Hollow Sprint Triathlon raises money for youth summer program

Sleepy Hollow Sprint Triathlon raises money for youth summer program

0:21
Red Cross provides emergency assistance to 33 residents displaced by Yonkers fire

Red Cross provides emergency assistance to 33 residents displaced by Yonkers fire

1:50
Students sing their hearts out for the 2024 'Yonkers Idol' competition

Students sing their hearts out for the 2024 'Yonkers Idol' competition

Is your dad awesome? Hudson Valley tell us why your dad rocks!

Is your dad awesome? Hudson Valley tell us why your dad rocks!

2:02
 A potential heat wave is coming. These sunscreen tips can save your skin

A potential heat wave is coming. These sunscreen tips can save your skin

1:59
Revelers enjoy Juneteenth festival and parade in Yonkers

Revelers enjoy Juneteenth festival and parade in Yonkers

1:57
Rep. Bowman, Latimer encourage voters to cast ballots early

Rep. Bowman, Latimer encourage voters to cast ballots early

0:29
Police: 2 arrested for stabbing man in New Windsor

Police: 2 arrested for stabbing man in New Windsor

0:29
Saugerties man convicted of manslaughter for fatally beating man in 2022

Saugerties man convicted of manslaughter for fatally beating man in 2022

2:04
Village of Sleepy Hollow raises Pride flag for first time despite opposition from some residents

Village of Sleepy Hollow raises Pride flag for first time despite opposition from some residents

2:04
Kevin Jonas undergoes surgery to remove common skin cancer; urges fans to get checked

Kevin Jonas undergoes surgery to remove common skin cancer; urges fans to get checked

1:39
Showing support for Ukraine in the Hudson Valley during Yonkers Ukrainian Heritage Festival

Showing support for Ukraine in the Hudson Valley during Yonkers Ukrainian Heritage Festival

0:47
Westchester Medical Center pioneers robotic procedure to help those with severe hearing loss

Westchester Medical Center pioneers robotic procedure to help those with severe hearing loss

0:29
Carmel police warn people about recent car burglaries

Carmel police warn people about recent car burglaries

0:35
Prosecutors: Former Wallkill firefighter sentenced to prison for 2021 arson incident

Prosecutors: Former Wallkill firefighter sentenced to prison for 2021 arson incident

1:47
EXCLUSIVE: News 12 uncovers police data that shows 19 children struck by vehicles in Ramapo in 6 months

EXCLUSIVE: News 12 uncovers police data that shows 19 children struck by vehicles in Ramapo in 6 months

1:28
Officials: 7 people injured, 13 families displaced in Yonkers fire

Officials: 7 people injured, 13 families displaced in Yonkers fire

1:03
PARENTS: Dutchess County children lost for 2 hours on nightmare bus ride home

PARENTS: Dutchess County children lost for 2 hours on nightmare bus ride home