State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced the guilty plea today of former New York City Councilman Ruben Wills. Wills pleaded guilty to one count of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the Second Degree, a class A misdemeanor. Pursuant to his plea agreement, Wills admitted he knowingly filed a false annual financial disclosure report with the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board by intentionally failing to disclose personal loans made to him on his disclosure form, as required by law.
"Mr. Wills was elected to serve the public. Instead, he repeatedly broke the law by stealing public funds and, in this case, filing false disclosure forms to conceal his financial dealings," said Comptroller DiNapoli. "Thanks to our Operation Integrity partnership with Attorney General Schneiderman, Mr. Wills was convicted and is serving prison time."
"New Yorkers trust that their elected officials will serve with integrity. Again and again, Ruben Wills violated that trust – stealing taxpayer dollars to line his own pockets and filing false documents to hide his financial dealings. He's now in prison, paying the price," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "No public servant is above the law, and we'll continue to root out and prosecute public corruption across New York."
In July, a Queens County jury found Wills guilty of five felony counts related to his theft of public funds from both the New York State Office of Children and Family Services and the New York City Campaign Finance Board, following public corruption charges brought by Attorney General Schneiderman. Subsequently, Wills was expelled from the New York City Council and sentenced to two to six years in prison (which he is currently serving), as well as a $5,000 fine and more than $30,000 in restitution. In light of Wills' current prison sentence and his guilty plea to filing a false document in Manhattan, the expenditure of the resources required to litigate this matter further would not have been in the taxpayers' best interest. Under these circumstances, the Attorney General's Office was able to reach an appropriate disposition that resulted in Wills' guilty plea today as he serves two to six years in prison.
Since 2011, Attorney General Schneiderman and Comptroller DiNapoli have worked together to fight corruption through their joint "Operation Integrity" initiative. Together, they have brought charges against dozens of individuals implicated in public corruption schemes around the state – resulting in the return of over $11 million in restitution to taxpayers through these convictions.
Comptroller DiNapoli's Division of Investigations conducted the investigation for the Office of the State Comptroller.
Assistant Attorneys General John Chiara and Travis Hill of the Public Integrity Bureau prosecuted the case, with assistance from Legal Support Analyst Dillon Kraus and former Legal Support Analyst Mollie Krent. The Public Integrity Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Daniel G. Cort and Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz. The Criminal Division is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Margaret Garnett. The Attorney General's investigation was conducted by Investigator Angel LaPorte and Gerald Matheson under the supervision of Deputy Chief John McManus. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Dominick Zarrella.
DiNapoli 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 [email protected], or by mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller, Investigations Unit, 14th Floor, 110 State St., Albany, NY 12236.