Law Dept. chief in Mount Vernon steps down

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Mount Vernon’s top lawyer has resigned. Nichelle Johnson, until now the city’s corporation counsel and head of its law department, has departed to, in the words of a brief statement from City Hall, “pursue other endeavors.”

MVCityHall

(Ricky Flores/The Journal News)

No word yet on a replacement for Johnson, who was appointed to her position at the start of 2012. She previously served as the top deputy to the corporation counsel and as a legislative aide to City Council.

“Nichelle has made invaluable contributions to the City of Mount Vernon during my administration and throughout her years employed with the City of Mount Vernon,” Mayor Ernest Davis said. “I wish her well in her future endeavors.”

Johnson’s resignation took effect at 12:00 a.m. Wednesday, about 14 hours before her resignation was made public. Calls to her office seeking comment on Wednesday, therefore, proved futile.

Her tenure as corporation counsel was busy with controversy. For much of last year she fended off questions about federal subpoenas of City Hall employees. The city’s Board of Ethics launched an investigation of her after The Journal News reported she had been driving a $45,000 BMW she borrowed from Sam Zherka, a newspaper publisher and strip-club owner who twice had sued the city.

Zherka said he offered Johnson use of the car while hers was being repaired, though, at the time, Johnson’s sister was seen driving Johnson’s own car.

Throughout, Johnson denied any wrongdoing. In May, the ethics board cleared her.

And she was among a group of city officials named in a lawsuit filed last month by Councilwoman Deborah Reynolds, who alleged that her character had been defamed and her ability to perform her fiduciary duties had been undermined by members of the City Council as well as the Law Department.

 

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