On September 10, 2020, New York State Attorney General Letitia James and New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced the sentencing of the former City of Mount Vernon Corporation Counsel Lawrence Porcari for abusing his position as a public official to engage in a scheme that defrauded the Mount Vernon Board of Water Supply of more than $300,000 to pay the personal legal expenses of the former Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas and a public relations firm.*
The jury found Mr. Porcari guilty of Corrupting the Government in the First Degree, a Class B felony; Grand Larceny in the Second Degree as a Crime of Public Corruption, a Class B felony; Defrauding the Government, a Class E felony; and other offenses.
Attorney General James said that “Any public official who lies, cheats, or defrauds New Yorkers must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law ... public servants have a responsibility to serve with transparency, integrity, and respect for the state and all of its people. I thank Comptroller Tom DiNapoli for his partnership and continued unwavering commitment to rooting out corruption in all its forms.”
A press release issued by Kate Gurnett of the Office of the State Comptroller notes that "Since 2011, the Attorney General and State Comptroller offices have worked together to fight corruption through their Joint Task Force on Public Integrity. They have brought charges against dozens of individuals implicated in public corruption schemes around the state — resulting in the return of more than $11 million in restitution to taxpayers through these convictions."
The Comptroller’s investigation was handled by Comptroller DiNapoli’s Division of Investigations and was handled by Investigator Angel LaPorte, under the supervision of Deputy Chief Investigator John McManus and Supervising Investigator Sylvia Rivera, and the overall supervision of Investigation Division Chief Oliver Pu-Folkes. Trial presentation assistance was provided by IT Specialist Matthew Rosenberg. Assisting in the investigation and providing forensic auditing analysis was Forensic Auditor Andre Hartley, under the supervision of Deputy Chief Auditor Sandy Bizzarro. Also assisting for the Attorney General was Legal Support Analyst Rebecca Saber.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Meagan Powers and Special Counsel Brian Weinberg of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Travis Hill. The Criminal Justice Division is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Jose Maldonado and supervised by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.
* Mr.Porcari was sentenced to 1-3 years in prison. However, Judge David Zuckerman has temporarily stayed the execution of Porcari’s sentence. A status hearing is scheduled for November 18, 2020.
Since taking office in 2007, State Comptroller DiNapoli has been committed to fighting public corruption and encourages the public to help fight fraud and abuse. Allegations of fraud involving taxpayer money can be reported by calling the toll-free Fraud Hotline at 1-888-672-4555, by filing a complaint online at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Investigations, 8th Floor, 110 State St., Albany, NY 12236.