Ruben Wills, a former councilman for Southeast Queens Council District 28 who is challenging incumbent Councilwoman Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica), recently celebrated his exoneration in the conviction that expelled him from office.
Wills was forced to leave the Council after he was convicted for misappropriating funds. He served two years for the crime and was released in 2019. In September of 2020, the conviction was overturned after it was ruled that the judge unfairly stopped several witnesses from testifying in Wills’ defense.
On April 22, the criminal conviction against him was completely dismissed. As a result of the dismissal, there’s no longer the cloud of a possible retrial by the attorney general hanging over Wills’ candidacy.
Wills spent part of the event on April 29 outside Queens County Criminal Court pitching his criminal justice reform platform, which is aimed at facilitating prosecutorial misconduct cases. For the press event, he invited several exonerees of cases that were investigated by Detective Louis Scarcella, a retired Brooklyn investigator who has been accused of framing people for crimes they were later found not to have committed.
In a proposed bill he wants to name after Scarcella, Wills would remove the statute of limitations entirely to go before the Court of Claims, in order to file a lawsuit over being wrongly convicted
Despite being investigated by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office for evidence of misconduct, Scarcella has not been charged with any wrongdoing — a fact pointed out by the Detectives’ Endowment Association union, which has pledged “to do everything in our power to fight Wills’ proposed name for his bill.”
Wills’ guests included Derrick Hamilton, Shabaka Shakur and Eliseo DeLeon, who between them spent over 70 years in prison, before being exonerated for cases investigated by Scarcella and brought by the Brooklyn DA’s Office.
The detectives union has dismissed exonerations of Scarcella’s cases, saying that they “were overturned based on technicalities,” to which Wills pointed out that it was ballistics evidence that turned up contradictions in the case that convicted Hamilton.
“This is brutality. This is a crime that we have to address. This is something that is affecting our communities because men and women are being stolen off of our streets,” Wills told the Chronicle.