By Sadef Ali Kully

In the corruption case against Councilman Ruben Wills (D-South Ozone Park), his co-defendant Jelani Mills pleaded guilty last week to falsifying business records and funneling campaign funds into a shell company account under the direction of the lawmaker, according to the plea agreement with the state attorney general.

Wills’ attorney, Steve Zissou, did not respond to repeated requests from the TimesLedger Newspaper for comment on Mills’ plea, but he did tell the New York Post that everything Mills said was a lie.

Wills has continuously denied all charges against him.

Jelani Mills, 29, a relative of Wills, said he was directed by Wills to open an account for a shell company, Micro Targeting, at Chase Bank in November 2009 when Wills was running for City Council, according to the plea deal. Before he signed the plea agreement Jan, 14 Mills disappeared from State Supreme Court in Queens for a couple of hours, causing the judge to issue a warrant for his arrest. He reappeared and told Judge Barry Kron his child was sick, according to a court source.

Mills said he gave false information and documents to the bank in order to open the account, the agreement said. He admitted to conducting the transaction under the Micro Targeting account, as well as depositing $11,500 from the Ruben Wills for New York campaign funds, according to the AG.

In the plea agreement, Mills said that almost two weeks after the account was opened, Wills asked him to withdraw $2,500 from the shell company account. Mills said he gave Wills the money and took out $2,000 for his personal use, Mills said. When Wills found out that Mills withdrew money for himself, Mills was told to return the money, according to the plea agreement.

Wills, 44, ended up losing the 2009 Democratic primary for City Council.

In the case in Queens Supreme Court, Wills and Mills were charged with bilking the city Campaign Finance Board by taking matching funds to pay Micro Targeting for its role in Wills’ election bid even though the shell company did not earn any monies.

In 2014, Wills and Mills were arrested after they were indicted for allegedly pocketing public campaign funds and charitable grant money for personal benefit. Both were indicted by a grand jury after an investigation exposed the theft of approximately $30,000 and an attempt by the councilman to cover their tracks, according to the AG.

According to the indictment, Wills was accused of stealing more than $30,000 in public state funds from New York 4 Life, a nonprofit, and of using some of the cash for shopping sprees, which included the purchase of a $750 Louis Vuitton handbag.

The AG said Wills received the funding through a grant obtained by former state Sen. Shirley Huntley, who served a year in prison in 2013 for looting a nonprofit that she controlled. Wills had worked as her aide.

The indictment charged Wills with grand larceny, scheming to defraud, falsifying business records and offering a false instrument for filing, Schneiderman said. If convicted, he could face a maximum of seven years in prison. The same indictment charged Jelani Mills with grand larceny and falsifying business records, the AG said.

Last year, Wills was arrested again and charged with filing false documents with the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board, according to the attorney general.

As part of the plea settlement, the attorney general recommended Mills be sentenced to one year’s probation and perform 10 days of community service.

Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skully@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.

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