A defiant Ruben Wills repeatedly maintained his innocence today in the face of a slew of fraud and larceny charges leveled against him.
Mr. Wills and his attorney Chris Renfroe appeared in front of a throng of reporters outside of Queens Criminal Court this morning and said the Queens councilman would be staging a press conference in the next two weeks to address the charges brought by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office.
“I’m innocent. We’re gonna fight these charges in court just like any body else,” said Mr. Wills, who was released without bail, but forced to surrender any passports.
“I’m telling you I’m innocent. How many people have stood here and before the cameras said outright that they were innocent? Not too many, right?” Mr. Wills continued. “I’m telling you in my district that I’m innocent. I have full support from my district and I have full support across the City Council. I am not resigning on charges, this is America, people. We are presumed innocent before we are proven guilty.”
Mr. Wills and a campaign associate, Jelani Mills, were charged with a dozen counts, including fraud, grand larceny and falsifying business records, according to an indictment unsealed this morning. Mr. Mills was charged on four counts and his bail was set at $50,000.
As Mr. Wills and his attorney made their way down Queens Boulevard, the councilman marveled at the reporters following him and hinted that racial bias may have played a role in the attention he was receiving.
“I know because of where I come from and the color I am, it doesn’t usually work like that with you guys, but I am presumed innocent and that’s what I’m going with,” said Mr. Wills, who represents a predominately African-American district in Queens.
“It’s amazing, all the work that we do and this is what makes you the hottest thing in New York, negative charges. Nobody was here to cover all the other things we did,” he later added. “Unbelievable.”