It was another unfortunate day for Queens on Wednesday, as yet again an elected official was taken away in handcuffs and placed in front of a judge facing fraud charges.
Councilman Ruben Wills has not been a stranger to controversy over the last few years. The investigation conducted by the State Attorney General’s office had been ongoing for more than a year, connecting Wills to the fraud charges that put State Sen. Shirley Huntley behind bars not too long ago. He has not had any control over discretionary funds in his district for some time, a key factor in the Tribune’s decision to not endorse him when he sought re-election last year.
Wills maintains that he is innocent until proven guilty, and under our judicial system, he is absolutely right in this assertion. However, the court of public opinion can be a much more unforgiving thing and many have already made up their minds about him.
Unfortunately, the Councilman also found it necessary to play the race card while speaking to reporters outside the courthouse on Wednesday, indicating that he believes his arrest was racially-motivated. While we will not pretend to know for sure the motivations for the arrest, we can assume that the activities uncovered by the Attorney General’s office may have something to do with it.
Wills may want to ask the large number of prominent African-American officials both in Southeast Queens and throughout the City, who have represented their City faithfully and without any question of illegality.
We hope for a speedy conclusion to these proceedings, if anything so the constituents of Wills’ Council district can have the kind of representation they deserve.