The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Queens Councilman to Lose His Seat After Guilty Verdict in Corruption Trial

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | July 21, 2017 12:04pm | Updated on July 24, 2017 5:34am
 Ruben Wills faces up to seven years in prison.
Ruben Wills faces up to seven years in prison.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Gustavo Solis

QUEENS — Jamaica Councilman Ruben Wills will be expelled from office after a jury found him guilty Thursday on five of six counts against him in his corruption trial, officials said.

Wills, who was elected in 2010, faces up to seven years behind bars for stealing more than $30,000 in taxpayer money and using it on personal shopping sprees, according to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office led the case.

“Ruben Wills stole taxpayer dollars to buy fancy purses and clothes for himself and his friends,” Schneiderman said in a statement. "New Yorkers deserved better.”

The indictment against Wills was unsealed in 2014

Following his 11-day trial in Queens Criminal Court, the jury found Wills guilty of one count of a scheme to defraud, two counts of grand larceny and two counts of filing a false instrument. He was found not guilty on one charge of filing false business records.

According to Schneiderman, Wills used public matching funds from his 2009 campaign for City Council to pay $11,500 to Micro Targeting, a shell company created to translate and distribute campaign literature. But instead the money was redirected to a charity controlled by Wills called NY 4 Life, prosecutors said.

Wills then used the money to make a number of purchases, including a $750 Louis Vuitton handbag at Macy’s, Schneiderman said.

He also used $21,000 in state grant funds to shop at Nordstrom and Home Depot. 

The money was part of a $33,000 grant provided to NY 4 Life from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), earmarked by former State Sen. Shirley Huntley while Wills worked as her chief of staff.

Huntley lost her seat in 2012 after pleading guilty to embezzling $87,000 in state funds from another charity.

The grant required NY 4 Life to use the money to conduct four public service projects, but according to Schneiderman, the organization held only one event.

“Ruben Wills betrayed the trust of all New Yorkers when he abused his position in the State Senate to steal thousands of dollars from the hardworking taxpayers of New York for his own selfish gain,” City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said in a statement.

Wills’ lawyer did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment, but following the verdict, the councilman posted a statement on his Facebook page.

“I have not lied to my community and I maintain my innocence,” he wrote. “I will not apologize for stealing anything because I did not.”

He also called the trial a payback for not wearing a wire as the Attorney General’s office asked him to, according to his post.

Wills, who is planning to file an appeal, is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 10.

After his sentencing, Wills will be automatically expelled from the council, Schneiderman said.