Wills agrees to pay restitution, perform community service in 1996 misdemeanor: DA

TimesLedger Newspapers

Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) ended the 15-year-old misdemeanor case against him Thursday at Manhattan Criminal Court, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said.

Just one day after he won an uncontested re-election for his seat, Wills pleaded guilty to a criminal mischief charge in the fourth degree related to the Aug. 14 1996 incident that took place at a PR firm in Chinatown. At the time Wills unlawfully entered the offices of Inner Circle Communications, damaged the property and stole a fan and track lighting, according to the DA’s office.

“Council Member Wills has accepted responsibility today for conduct which occurred when he was a young man,” Wills’ office said in a statement.

Several bench warrants were issued against the councilman, who was 25-years-old at the time of the incident, including in Sept. 1996 but the court said he did not make an appearance. There were no follow-ups on the case for years until this spring when a published report revealed he had an outstanding misdemeanor warrants in Manhattan and Nassau County criminal courts. Wills returned to both courts to respond to the bench warrants, and both cases were delayed several times over the summer and fall.

As part of his plea deal with Manhattan prosecutors, Wills agreed to pay $2,500 in restitution to the business owner and perform three days of community service, according to the DA’s office. A source close to the case said that the councilman brought the money to the hearing.

On Oct. 26, Wills agreed to pay restitution in the Nassau case, according to his spokeswoman Lupe Todd.

Wills said that he looked forward to putting the cases behind him and moving forward with his work for his constituents.

“What should be looked at is what he is today – a person who gives back every day to his community,” his office said in a statement.

Wills ran unopposed in Tuesday’s special election for his seat and will serve out the two years remaining on term that was vacated by the late Thomas White. Nearly 2,400 voters cast him in as their choice in Tuesday’s election.

He beat out three challengers in the September Democratic primary with approximately 3,800 votes.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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