ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, a onetime rising star in the Democratic Party who faces corruption charges that could end her career — and land her behind bars — appeared in a Monroe County courtroom Monday to plead not guilty to all charges.
Warren, 43, is accused of bypassing campaign contribution limits when she successfully ran for reelection as mayor in 2017.
Cayuga County Judge Thomas Leone will preside over her case in Monroe County to possibly avoid any judicial ties to the mayor.
“In my 14 years on the bench, I’ve never told my administrative judge ‘no,’ so here I am in Rochester today,” he said.
Appearing via a live stream at Monroe County Supreme Court, Warren sat cross-legged in the courtroom’s first row wearing a lilac face mask and a white coat.
Leone didn’t mince words in releasing the embattled mayor from custody as her court case plays out.
“Ms. Warren, I am going to release you on your own recognizance,” the judge said, further warning her not to get into “any trouble.”
“If you are convicted of the most serious charges here — well, they’re all Class E felonies — I’ll show you absolutely no consideration whatsoever, and I will sentence you to prison, do you understand that?” he added.
“Yes,” Warren solemnly responded.
Warren was indicted on first-degree scheme to defraud and election law violation by a Rochester grand jury on Friday. The charges came after a years-long investigation into her 2017 reelection campaign, prosecutors said.
Warren’s campaign treasurer, Albert Jones Jr., and treasurer Rosalind Brooks-Harris of the political action committee “Warren for a Strong Rochester” also face charges in the case. Brooks-Harris is also Rochester City’s finance director.
The mayor could serve up to four years in prison if convicted; she also faces