Council candidate hires registered sex offender to collect signatures

By Tom Momberg

City Council Democratic candidate Rebecca Lynch, who worked as deputy commissioner of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Community Affairs Office prior to launching her campaign, hired a registered sex offender to go door-to-door collecting signatures for her petition to run for city office.

Lynch is one of at least seven candidates who have petitioned to run for Mark Weprin’s former Council seat in eastern Queens this fall.

Richard Torres, a 41-year-old Brooklyn man, was convicted in 2005 after pleading guilty to committing a lewd act on a 6-year-old boy when he lived in Mullins, S.C. He was released from prison in 2010, according to the South Carolina Sex Offender Registry.

Torres was also one of six petitioners listed on Lynch’s state Board of Elections financial disclosure report filed in July, which listed a total of $660 in payments to Torres, the latest of which was reported July 7.

Torres had maintained his innocence in the 2005 sex crime when questioned about it, but said he pleaded guilty in taking a deal to avoid a harsher sentence, the Post reported.

“We are horrified. He hasn’t worked for us in weeks and neither has the person who hired him,” Lynch campaign spokeswoman Sally Frank said in a statement.

She did not wish to comment any further.

Lynch has so far been the biggest fund-raiser for the 23rd District Council seat, which covers Bellerose, Glen Oaks, Queens Village, Oakland Gardens and some smaller eastern Queens neighborhoods.

Endorsed by the Teamsters Union Joint Council 16, 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York and backed by the Working Families Party, Lynch reported raising a little more than $63,000 and so far spending about $6,000, according to the city Campaign Finance Board.

Lynch and the Working Families Party supported a “ban the box” law, which de Blasio and the City Council passed last month to forbid employers from asking about criminal records on job applications.

One of Lynch’s Democratic opponents, former state Assembly and City Council candidate Bob Friedrich, said the law has real life consequences for families and businesses, which was exemplified in the Lynch campaign’s decision to hire Torres.

“This unfortunate incident underscores how wrong Ms. Lynch … was to support the mayor and City Council’s recent move to prohibit employers from asking job applicants about their criminal background,” Friedrich said in a statement.

Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomberg@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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