Mayor Accused of Fraud Has New Problem: Drug Charges for Her Husband

The husband of the mayor of Rochester, New York, was arrested Wednesday after police said they discovered drugs and guns in searches of his car and home, the latest crisis for the mayor in a year continually whipsawed by scandal. Mayor Lovely Warren’s husband, Timothy Granison, 42, was accused of being part of a midlevel cocaine trafficking ring and charged Thursday with drug and gun possession in what prosecutors said was the culmination of a seven-month-long investigation. Six other people were charged in connection to the case, and additional charges are expected, according to the Monroe County district attorney. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times Warren was not charged with a crime, and prosecutors have not suggested she was a target of the investigation. A lawyer for Granison said Warren had no involvement with anything of which he is accused. But Granison’s arrest, and the discovery of 31 grams of powder in his possession that the police believe is cocaine — as well as a semi-automatic rifle and an unregistered handgun in Warren’s home — threatened to once again upend Warren’s reelection campaign. The episode was the latest in a series of scandals linked to Warren, who is seeking her third term as the mayor of Rochester, a small city just south of Lake Ontario. Last summer, the city was rocked by revelations of an apparent cover-up of the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died in police custody, which led to the firing of its police chief and censure of top officials. In the fall, Warren was indicted by county prosecutors on campaign finance charges for financial fraud during her 2017 reelection campaign. She has pleaded not guilty. In an address from City Hall on Thursday, Warren said she was the victim of a vast conspiracy to discredit her just a month before the city’s Democratic primary election. She accused the New York State Board of Elections of manipulating the evidence in its case against her, and suggested that the district attorney was framing her because she was angry the mayor had supported her opponent. And Warren intimated that the timing of Granison’s arrest and next court date — June 21, the day before the primary — had been designed to prevent her reelection. “People will try anything to break me,” Warren said. She described the recent events biblically, as her “Job year,” and denied any involvement in Granison’s troubles; the mayor and her husband had long ago signed a separation agreement, she said, but continued to co-parent their 10-year-old daughter. At a news conference Thursday, Sandra Doorley, the Monroe County district attorney, repudiated Warren’s accusations. “I’m sure there are going to be people out there who think this was politically motivated,” Doorley said. “It was not.” Doorley described Granison as a player in a “narcotics ring,” adding that the investigation was ongoing and more arrests and searches were expected. More than 2 kilograms of crack cocaine and powder, worth about $60,000, as well as more than $100,000 in cash, were recovered across searches of the homes and other property of the seven people arrested. “We believe this whole organization was a midlevel drug organization that was affecting the city of Rochester,” Doorley said at the conference, adding that the quantity of drugs recovered was considered “significant.” Granison has had past run-ins with the law: When he was 17, he pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery after serving as a getaway driver in a jewelry store robbery. He was sentenced to five years' probation. On Thursday, he pleaded not guilty to one count of criminal possession of a firearm, and two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, and was released on his own recognizance. Doorley said that investigators were also assessing whether the semi-automatic rifle was legal, and said he could face charges related to that weapon if it was not. John L. DeMarco, Granison’s lawyer, said that his client also wanted to stress that his wife had not been involved. “The mayor has played no role in any of this,” DeMarco said. “Other than merely being a resident of the home, there is no involvement.” Officials declined to specify what sparked the initial investigation, but Doorley said that Granison was not one of the original targets. About three months ago, conversations captured on police wiretaps revealed he played a role, she said. Police are seeking to interview Warren but have not yet done so, according to Maj. Barry C. Chase, a troop commander with the state police. Officials declined to comment on whether the mayor was heard on the wiretap. This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company