Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren pleaded not guilty to campaign finance and fraud charges on Monday.
Appearing via a live stream at Monroe County Supreme Court, Warren, 43, sat cross-legged in the courtroom’s first row wearing a lilac face mask and a white coat.
Cayuga County Judge Thomas Leone did not mince his words in releasing the embattled mayor from custody as her court case plays out.
“Miss Warren, I am going to release you on your own recognizance,” Judge Leone said, further warning her not to get into “any trouble.”
“If you are convicted of the most serious charges here — well, they’re all Class E felonies — I’ll show you absolutely no consideration whatsoever and I will sentence you to prison, do you understand that?” Judge Leone said.
“Yes,” Warren solemnly responded.
Warren was indicted on first-degree scheme to defraud and election law violation by a Rochester grand jury on Friday. The charges came after a years-long investigation into her 2017 reelection campaign, prosecutors said.
Warren’s campaign treasurer, Albert Jones Jr., and treasurer Rosalind Brooks-Harris of the political action committee “Warren for a Strong Rochester” also face charges in the case. Brooks-Harris is also Rochester’s city finance director.
Warren could serve up to four years in prison if convicted; she also faces disbarment and pension loss, per state law.
Warren’s attorney, Joe Damelio, said his client asked him to enter a plea of not guilty on her behalf. On Friday, he told reporters she intended to continue serving Rochester’s people as mayor while her case plays out.
Critics of Warren last month condemned her decision to keep quiet about police body-camera footage of Daniel Prude’s March 23 arrest.
The video shows police pressing the 41-year-old Black man into the pavement and putting a spit hood over his head. Prude died of the grievous injuries he sustained in the attack.
Warren claimed she remained mum about the video as state Attorney General Letitia James was still investigating it. She later suspended the seven officers seen assaulting Prude on video and fired Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary.
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