Judge: Richard Thomas no longer mayor of Mount Vernon after month of political drama

MOUNT VERNON, Westchester County (WABC) -- A hearing in Westchester County determined that Richard Thomas is no longer mayor of Mount Vernon after a month of political drama in the suburban community.

A judge ruled that the embattled Thomas's office was vacated the moment he pleaded guilty to misappropriating $12,900 campaign funds and lying about those funds on a disclosure to the State Board of Elections in July.

Thomas hoped the New York Supreme Court justice would consider his request to annul the city council's efforts to remove him from office, but the judge denied his injunction and urged Thomas to drop the lawsuit for the good of the city.

"In this case it's one man against the city of Mount Vernon," said Westchester Supreme Court Judge Lawrence Ecker. "I'm not interested in character assassination at this point. That's for another day and perhaps another judge. I'm interested in making sure there is an orderly transition."

The city council voted to replace Thomas and strip him of his salary before appointing Andre Wallace as interim mayor earlier this month.

Yet Thomas said originally struck a deal that would allow him to stay in office until the end of September.

The drama escalated last week when Wallace's newly appointed police commissioner was taken into custody for trespassing city last week -- as Thomas won't recognize him in that role.

"The bottom line is, I am the mayor of Mount Vernon," Thomas said July 12. "And the distractions and the continued antics by the City Council is just that, irresponsible antics and distractions."

The council has stated their opposition.

"It is the council's position that when the mayor pled guilty to those two counts, in effect he forfeited his office," council member Delia Farquharson said.

"As of now he has continued to be a squatter as we have identified that to be and hopefully by the time we get back to City Hall he would have packed up his things and left," said Wallace following the ruling Wednesday.

Wallace says that at some point police will enforce the decision and clear out the mayor's office.

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