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Former City Counsel In Westchester Sentenced For Corruption Conviction

Lawrence Porcari, Jr.
Lawrence Porcari, Jr. Photo Credit: File

The former top lawyer for the City of Mount Vernon will avoid immediate prison time as he appeals his sentence for corruption involving former Mayor Richard Thomas.

Lawrence Porcari Jr. was found guilty by a jury of corrupting government, second-degree grand larceny, degrading government, and filing false statements for using $365,000 from the city’s water funds to assist Thomas, who was ousted out of office last year.

On Wednesday, Sept. 9, Porcari was sentenced to 1 to 3 years in prison, but he will remain free without bail while he appeals his conviction. He had faced a maximum term of 25 years behind bars.

Specifically, Porcari was found guilty last December of:

  • Corrupting the government;
  • Grand larceny as a crime of public corruption;
  • Defrauding the government;
  • Three counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing;
  • Second-degree offering a false instrument for filing.

Porcari is due back in court before the end of the year to provide his judge an update on the appeal.

According to documents filed with the Westchester County Court, Porcari misappropriated funds from the City of Mount Vernon Board of Water Supply to pay law firms for the personal defense of Thomas in criminal proceedings, as well as a public relations firm hired at the time of Thomas’s arrest in March 2018.

“Any public official who lies, cheats, or defrauds New Yorkers must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Attorney General Letitia James said. “New York’s public servants have a responsibility to serve with transparency, integrity, and respect for the state and all of its people."

James said that the approval for the rate of payment for one of the law firms and the public relations firm was sought from the City’s Board of Estimate and Contract on multiple dates in April and May of 2018 but was never obtained.

Instead, Porcari allegedly arranged for payments from the funds from the Board of Water Supply, which consists of money paid by customers for their use of water and whose use is limited by state and local law to Board of Water Supply purposes.

The scheme continued into the fall of 2018 with payments from the Board of Water Supply to a second firm later retained for Thomas’s defense. To further the scheme, Porcari submitted memos to the Board of Water Supply for “emergency” payments to the law firms, including memorandums containing false statements.

“Mr. Porcari betrayed the people of Mount Vernon and violated his oaths as a public servant and attorney. Now, he faces the consequences of his actions,” Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli added in a statement. “I thank Attorney General James for holding Mr. Porcari accountable and her continued partnership in fighting public corruption across the state.”    

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