Disgraced former Queens city councilman Ruben Wills cried like a baby as he was sentenced to two to six years in prison Thursday for looting public coffers , pleading for leniency and maintaining his innocence to the end.
Wills, who was stripped of his title at sentencing, was ordered to pay almost $33,000 in res titution after a jury found him guilty of pocketing some $30,000 in city funds.
The normally well-heeled politician arrived in court in jogging duds and blue sneakers–and bawled as he begging the judge for leniency, claiming he’d done nothing wrong.
“Do not incarcerate me,” Wills begged. “I maintain my innocence and disagree with the verdict.”
“I did those things to enrich the community,” the typically cocky man said through sobs, at times crying so hard he was unintelligible. “I cannot justify that I did something wrong.”
“In my entire life I’ve never taken anything from anyone,” he blubbered. “My purpose from birth is I am an advocate.”
The still-teary pol then turned to his wife, and apologized for not spending more time with her “because I was out in the streets helping people and praying for people.”
Defense attorney Kevin O’Donnell also asked the judge for mercy, saying “very few people have given more to the community than Ruben Wills.”
“Show him some mercy, some compassion,” the lawyer implored, adding that jail would bankrupt his client and leave him unable to pay restitution. “I’m just asking you, judge, that you do the right thing and let him do community service. Nobody wins by him going to jail.”
“I have no doubt that you have done some good things in the community,” Queens Supreme Court Judge Ira Margulis told the whimpering lawmaker. “However you are convicted for stealing from state and city agencies.”
Margulis then slapped the disgraced pol with a $5,000 fine on top of everything else, and ordered him cuffed.
Members of the packed gallery–which included his father–sniffled as a shackled Wills was led back into the pens following his sentence.
A jury found the ex-councilman guilty of five of the six counts against him in his corruption trial, after hearing the Democrat spent the stolen loot on himself and loved ones–including to purchase of a $750 Louis Vuitton bag, a Wii console and a three-pack of underwear.
“New Yorkers deserve public servants whose priority is the needs of their constituents, not lining their own pockets,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office prosecuted the case. “Instead of spending taxpayer money on projects to help his community, Ruben Wills betrayed the public trust by stealing tens of thousands for himself – and he’ll now pay the price.”
O’Donnell told reporters he and his client intend to appeal the conviction, adding he’s in the process of filing an emergency stay in order to keep Wills out of prison pending appeal.