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Wills admits ‘96 break-in, pays restitution

TimesLedger Newspapers

Nearly 48 hours after he sealed his future in City Hall, Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) ended the 15-year-old misdemeanor case against him at Manhattan Criminal Court last Thursday by admitting to his past wrong doings, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said.

Wills pleaded guilty to a criminal mischief charge in the fourth degree related to an 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.

Prosecutors said the councilman, who was 25 years old and had a contracting firm at the time of the incident, broke into the office after the PR firm fired him for a job.

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

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

The councilman, who was elected in a special election last year to fill the District 28 seat that was vacated by Thomas White’s death, was re-elected for the seat last weak in an uncontested contest. Nearly 2,400 voters cast him in as their choice in the Nov. 8 election.

He beat out three challengers in the September Democratic primary with approximately 3,800 votes. As part of the special election rules, Wills will serve out the remaining two years that were left on White’s term.

The end of the criminal case marked the culmination of months of court appearances and discussions with Manhattan prosecutors and the councilman.

Several bench warrants were issued by a Manhattan judge against the councilman, but he did initially respond to the court’s request for an appearance. The last bench warrant was issued in September 1996, according to the Manhattan DA’s office.

There were no follow-ups on the case for years until March, when a published report revealed he had 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 the councilman brought the money to the hearing.

Wills’ office and the DA’s office said they did not know where he would serve out those community service hours.

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

“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.

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

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