“It’s a witch hunt,” said Councilman Ruben Wills.
Councilman Ruben Wills held a press conference on May, 28th to dispute charges that he wore a wire for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
“I want to be crystal clear I have NEVER worn a wire,” said Councilman Wills reading from a prepared statement.
The Councilman further stated that he was asked to wear a wire by the Attorney General in return for disbanding the “grand jury” in order to make a pending indictment “go away,” he said.
Councilman Wills was indicted by the Attorney General and State Comptroller Thomas DiNapaoli in a corruption scheme that involved a non-profit and campaign funds. The Councilman did not speak directly to those charges, but did bring ‘evidence’ of works by a non-profit aimed at single parents. There were easels filled with photos, menus, trips and news coverage of his efforts with this non-profit. The funds of which have been the focus of the investigation by the Attorney General.
“Years and years of what they call a sham non-for-profit…where we reach residents of Southeast Queens…If we have proof of the events, how did I steal money,” said Councilman Wills.
Counsel for the Councilmember, Steve Zissou, said that a full accounting of the funds, “almost to the penny”, has been provided. “We offered to repay it completely if there was any misunderstanding,” he said in reference to his client first being contacted by the Comptroller.
The Councilman was joined by a new member of his legal team, Sally Bulter. Butler recently represented former NY State Senator Shirley Huntley before she served time for misappropriation of funds connected to a non-profit. Huntley is currently on supervised release. At her turn at the podium, Sally Bulter spoke to the rationale behind the Attorney General's action, cultivating the African American vote.
“Southeast Queens is an important area for the vote. Mr. Schneiderman is up for re-election. Mr. Schneiderman needs the African American vote. He knows that he doesn’t necessarily have the support of the leaders that are here now. So he is going to do whatever it takes to bring them down,” she said.
Spokesman for the Attorney General, Matt Mittenthal, released the following statement in response to the Councilman’s assertions.
“The People of NY expect and deserve a government that serves their interests…which is why AG Schneiderman has prosecuted more than 40 individuals in public corruption cases. He is committed to rooting out public corruption wherever it exists and will follow the evidence wherever it leads.”
Schneiderman has been the Attorney General (AG) since 2010. Elections for AG are in 2014 and are on a statewide level. While Southeast Queens has shown itself to be a voting block of note on city issues, its effect remains to be seen on a statewide level.
Councilman Wills covers the 28th District, Jamaica, South Jamaica and Richmond Hill.