A jury Thursday has found Queens City Councilman Ruben Wills guilty on five of six counts against him in his corruption trial.
Wills was accused of stealing more than $30,000 in taxpayer money, funneling it through his nonprofit group, then using it, among other things, on clothes, fast food, gas and, in one case, a $690 Louis Vuitton handbag.
His attorney said Wills was simply reimbursing himself after paying for the nonprofit's work out of his own pocket.
Over the course of a two-week trial, prosecutors from the state attorney general's office made the case that Wills pocketed city and state taxpayer money.
In one case, he siphoned off $21,000 in state grant money that had been awarded to his non-profit group, New York 4 Life.
Separately, he pocketed $11,500 in city campaign finance funds, using much of the money on himself at stores ranging from Nordstrom to Dunkin' Donuts to Victoria's Secret.
After the verdict, he was upbeat and defiant. "I'm just going to sit here and make sure that my community knows that I'm innocent," Wills said to reporters. "I didn't steal any money. I'm disappointed in the verdict."
A city councilman representing southeast Queens since 2011, Wills now automatically loses his council seat.
In a statement, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said, "Serving in elected office requires honesty and integrity and today's conviction makes clear that Ruben Wills is unfit to be a member of the City Council."
First arrested in 2014, Wills is also charged in a separate case in Manhattan for falsifying records. He says he was prosecuted after failing to incriminate other Queens elected officials.
"The attorney general's office held back a lot of evidence that they know would have proved my innocence," Wills said. "They brought this case because I wouldn't wear a wire, and I was prosecuted for it."
The judge in the case did not set bail; Wills was released of his own recognizance and is due back in court August 10 for sentencing.
Wills faces up to seven years in prison. His attorney plans to appeal.