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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

News

From the Office of the New York State Comptroller

Thomas P. DiNapoli

July 20, 2017, Contact: Press Office (518) 474-4015

DiNapoli: Jury Convicts Councilman Ruben Wills in Public Corruption Scheme

Wills Guilty of Stealing Campaign Funds and Grant Money for Personal Benefit
At Sentencing, Conviction Will Automatically Expel Wills From NYC Council
Wills Faces Up To Seven Years in Prison

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli along with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the jury conviction of New York City Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Queens) following an eleven-day trial that resulted in a guilty verdict on five of six counts related to Will's theft of approximately $30,000 in public campaign funds and state grant money. The jury found Wills guilty of one count of a scheme to defraud in the 1st degree, two counts of grand larceny in the 3rd degree, and two counts of filing a false instrument in the 1st degree. The jury acquitted Wills on a single charge of filing false business records. In accordance with state law, upon sentencing, Wills will be automatically expelled from the New York City Council. Wills faces a maximum of seven years behind bars.

"Councilman Ruben Wills stole public money and abused his position of trust," State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said. "Thanks to the work of my staff and our partnership with Attorney General Schneiderman, we are targeting public corruption and holding public officials accountable for misuse of public resources."

"Ruben Wills' crimes were a shameful violation of the public trust. Now, after a conviction by a jury of his peers, Ruben Wills will face the consequences," said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. "Ruben Wills stole taxpayer dollars to buy fancy purses and clothes for himself and his friends. New Yorkers deserved better. Today's conviction is another important step in our efforts to clean up New York politics and give voters the representation they deserve. I thank Comptroller DiNapoli and his staff for their continued and valuable partnership on Operation Integrity. My office will continue to hold accountable any public official who breaches the public trust and breaks the law."

As state prosecutors argued at trial, Wills used public matching funds from his 2009 campaign for City Council to pay $11,500 to Micro Targeting, a shell company purportedly created to translate and distribute campaign literature. Prosecutors proved at trial that Micro Targeting never provided any campaign services, and that the money was instead redirected to a non-profit corporation called NY 4 Life, which Wills controlled. Wills withdrew the money and made a series of personal purchases, including at Macy's, where he used a portion of the funds to purchase a $750 Louis Vuitton handbag.

Prosecutors also detailed how Wills used $21,000 in State grant funds for personal and political expenses.

The $21,000 was part of a $33,000 grant provided to NY 4 Life from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), earmarked by former State Senator Shirley Huntley while Wills was serving as Huntley's chief of staff. The grant stipulated that the money had to be used to conduct four public service projects. Yet witnesses at trial testified that NY 4 Life only held one event, while Wills used approximately $21,000 of the funds for personal and political expenses, including at Nordstrom and Home Depot. Wills also used a portion of the money to pay individuals who had carried out campaign work for his City Council race.

Judge Ira Margulis presided over the trial, and scheduled sentencing for August 10th.

Since 2011, Comptroller DiNapoli and Attorney General Schneiderman, through their "Operation Integrity" partnership, have brought charges against dozens of individuals implicated in public corruption schemes around the state. The office has been able to return over $11 million in restitution to taxpayers through these convictions.

Comptroller DiNapoli's investigation was handled by his Division of Investigations.

Since taking office in 2007, DiNapoli has committed to fighting public corruption and encourages the public to help fight fraud and abuse. New Yorkers can report allegations of fraud involving taxpayer money by calling the toll-free Fraud Hotline at 1-888-672-4555, by filing a complaint online at investigations@osc.state.ny.us, or by mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Investigations, 14th Floor, 110 State St., Albany, NY 12236. Review prior cases at http://www.osc.state.ny.us/investigations/index.htm.


Albany Phone: (518) 474-4015 Fax: (518) 473-8940
NYC Phone: (212) 383-1388 Fax: (212) 681-7677
Internet: www.osc.state.ny.us
E-Mail: press@osc.state.ny.us