MOUNT VERNON, New York (WABC) -- The mayor of Mount Vernon was arrested Monday morning on charges related to alleged campaign abuse as part of a public corruption case.
Mayor Richard Thomas is accused of taking $12,000 from the campaign fund "Committee for Richard Thomas" and from an inaugural fund to pay for personal expenses. Thomas denies the accusations.
"The allegations are not true," he said. "And I want to reassure the people of Mount Vernon that this has nothing to do with my service in office as it relates to the campaign."
Reading only a brief statement and not answering questions from reporters, Thomas vowed to fight the charges.
"I have no doubt that we will be able to prove our full compliance with the letter, ethics and spirit of the law," he said.
In a news conference, State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman laid out the allegations against Thomas, claiming the mayor stole nearly $13,000 from his campaign committee and diverted over $45,000 from his inaugural committee for his own personal use.
"As we detail in the felony complaint, Mayor Thomas treated these accounts as slush funds to pay off cars, dinners, and even a Chanel purse, and then lied about it in his filings," Schneiderman said. "Public corruption strikes at the very heart of our democracy, and we're committed to continuing to root it out across New York."
Many said they were disappointed by the charges.
"We elected him because we thought he was a hope, and now he just turned out to be an embarrassment and a failure," community activist Sameul Rivers said. "He should immediately resign."
A number of supporters, though, are backing the mayor.
"My support for him is 100 percent as my mayor," the Rev. Carl Washington said. "We are going to stand by him and stand with him and make sure everything is done to vindicate his name."
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Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas arrested in corruption probe
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