Judge: Former Spring Valley mayor can run again despite federal conviction

FILE - Generic gavel on wooden table.

Two candidates who have been convicted on corruption charges want to be mayor of the suburban New York village of Spring Valley, but a judge ruled that only one is eligible to run.

Wednesday's ruling by State Supreme Court Justice Paul Marx means that former Spring Valley mayor Noramie Jasmin can run for her old seat in the June 22 Democratic primary even though she was found guilty of federal mail fraud and extortion charges in 2015 and served four years in prison.

But former village trustee Vilair Fonvil, who was convicted on state charges for stealing $11,000 from a summer camp run by the village, cannot run, the judge ruled.

Fonvil had sued to knock Jasmin off the ballot. She countersued and won because her conviction was in federal court and his was in state court.

Fonvil "is clearly and unequivocally ineligible" to hold office because of his conviction on state charges even though he has appealed that conviction, the judge ruled. But Jasmin's federal felony convictions "do not disqualify her from running for office" under the same statute that bars Fonvil from running, Marx ruled.

"This case illustrates the current state of the Public Officers Law and the difference between a federal conviction and state conviction on one’s eligibility for public office," Ali Najmi, an attorney for Jasmin, said in an email.

A message seeking comment was left with an attorney for Fonvil.

Spring Valley is a village of about 31,000 people located some 35 miles (56 kilometers) north of New York City. The winner of the June 22 Democratic primary will almost certainly be the next mayor of the overwhelmingly Democratic community.

Other candidates include incumbent Alan Simon and former mayor Demeza Delhomme, who was jailed for contempt in 2014 in a dispute over a day camp.

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