Rochester Mayor's Trial Will Scrutinize Campaign Financing

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren is scheduled to go on trial this week along with two associates on charges they broke campaign finance rules during her 2017 reelection campaign.

Warren, campaign treasurer Albert Jones Jr. and Rosiland Brooks-Harris, the city's finance director and treasurer of a pro-Warren political action committee, are charged with exceeding campaign finance limits by illegally moving money between her campaign committee and the now-defunct PAC.

Warren lost her reelection campaign when she was defeated in the Democratic primary by City Councilmember Malik Evans and is scheduled to leave office in January. A conviction on one of the two felony counts she faces would require that she be removed from office, with Deputy Mayor James Smith taking over for the remainder of her term. The trial is expected to last four to six weeks.

Defense lawyers have said any lapses were inadvertent and not part of a coordinated scheme, and that Warren's campaign committee rectified the errors.

“There was no intent to defraud,” Joseph Damelio, Warren's attorney, told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Attorney John DeMarco, representing Jones, told the newspaper the conduct "was arguably negligent, but I don’t see it as criminal.”

In a statement, the Monroe County district attorney's office said it is looking forward to bringing the case to trial and that the evidence “will show the importance of enforcing the election law and related charges.”

In July, Warren and husband Timothy Granison pleaded not guilty to unrelated charges stemming from a police raid that allegedly turned up a rifle and pistol, and her 10-year-old daughter alone, in the home they share.

The May search was part of an investigation into cocaine trafficking, investigators said at the time, and Granison was later charged with drug and weapons counts and pleaded not guilty. Warren has not been charged in the drug case.