Rochester mayor's husband pleads not guilty to drug, weapons charges

Mayor Lovely Warren, Rochester, N.Y., Sept. 3, 2020. (AP file photo)

The husband of Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren pleaded not guilty Thursday to criminal drug and weapons charges, following a seven-month investigation that authorities said involved wiretaps and a search of the home he shares with the mayor.

Timothy Granison appeared in Rochester City Court via video from the Monroe County jail, where he spent the night after being arrested during a traffic stop while in possession of a large quantity of cocaine, State Police Maj. Barry Chase said.

District Attorney Sandra Doorley said Granison, 42, is among seven people charged so far with being part of "a midlevel drug organization that was infecting the city of Rochester."

He was not an initial target of the ongoing investigation, she said.

"During the course of that wiretap investigation, the evidence led us to Timothy Granison," Doorley said during a news conference.

The prosecutor declined to say whether Warren was recorded on the wiretaps, but she didn't rule out any involvement by the mayor.

"I'm not saying that. I'm not commenting at this point," Doorley said.

State police investigators want to interview the mayor, Chase said, and were awaiting a response to their request from her attorney.

The mayor's spokesperson, Justin Roj, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Granison and a passenger were stopped at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday by members of the state police's violent gangs and narcotics enforcement team outside a Rochester address, Chase said.

"We wanted to stop him because we believed he was in the possession of illegal substances," Chase said.

Granison was charged with two counts of possession of a controlled substance, including one with intent to sell.

A search of the mayor's home — one of seven locations searched Wednesday and Thursday — turned up a loaded unregistered gun, leading to a third charge of criminal possession of a weapon, Chase said. Police also found a semiautomatic rifle, which was being analyzed to determine whether it was in compliance with New York weapons laws.

Troopers closed off the block around Warren’s home with police tape and could be seen taking items from the residence, according to video recordings by journalists at the scene.

Attorney John DeMarco, in entering not guilty pleas for Granison, asked that the charges be dismissed, saying they were not sufficiently presented, local media reported from the courtroom.

Judge Jacqueline Sisson, who came from nearby Canandaigua City Court to preside over the hearing, denied the request but said it could be resubmitted in writing.

Granison was released without bail pending his next court appearance June 21.

"As of right now, we have very little information, not any more information than I alluded to in court," DeMarco told reporters after the hearing. "There’s these two charges that allege possession of contraband that appears to be cocaine and an allegation that there was a firearm inside the home that was not registered to anybody that they believed to be residing in the home."

Granison has been embroiled in the criminal justice system before.

He was put on probation for five years after being arrested for his involvement in a jewelry store robbery that took place in March 1997 when he was 17 years old. Two other men were sentenced to prison terms for their roles in that robbery.

His role in the robbery came to public attention just before Warren’s first inauguration. In a statement at the time, she said Granison was judged as a youthful offender and his file sealed, and that he did not have a criminal record.

She pointed to him as an example of someone who had turned his life around and said he had learned from the experience.

Warren was indicted in a campaign finance fraud case in October, but a representative for the district attorney's office said Wednesday’s police activity at her home was not connected to that case.

"The mayor is just learning about the events that unfolded this afternoon and has no more information than the rest of the community," Roj said in a statement Wednesday.

Warren, a Democrat, is in the middle of a reelection campaign for a third term with a critical party primary coming up just next month.

She has spent the past year between crises. She was indicted in October on charges she broke campaign finance rules during her last reelection campaign, four years ago. The treasurers of her campaign and political action committees were also charged.

She has acknowledged making errors in the handling and reporting of campaign contributions but said they were honest mistakes, not crimes.

Over the summer, she faced calls to resign over her handling of the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who stopped breathing after police placed him in a mesh hood and pressed him to the pavement. Police and city officials said almost nothing publicly about the death for months until Prude’s family obtained and released body camera video showing the death.

In March, a probe into the official response to Prude’s death, commissioned by Rochester’s city council, said Warren lied to the public about what she knew and when she knew it. A special counsel to the city administration disputed those claims.

In April, a federal civil rights lawsuit was filed naming Warren and other city officials, accusing them of allowing a culture of police brutality against racial minorities.