OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Omaha Councilman Vinny Palermo will remain in Saunders County Jail until trial.
Friday afternoon, a judge decided that Vinny Palermo, Richie Gonzalez and Jack Olson will
remain detained on federal charges until trial. The fourth suspect in the case, Johnny Palermo, was already ordered to remain detained after entering a “not guilty” plea.
The four were
arrested earlier this month on federal charges, including wire fraud and various financial schemes.
In the Detention Order released Friday, the court stated Palermo posed a “serious risk of obstruction or attempted obstruction of justice, and of actual or attempted intimidation of witnesses.”
Attorneys can still ask the judge to reconsider the decision for them to remain detained at any point.
Following the judge’s decision for the suspects to remain jailed, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert
has once again called for Palermo to resign from his seat on the City Council.
“Following the federal judge’s order that Vinny Palermo remain in jail until trial, I again call on him to resign his seat on the Omaha City Council. The residents of Council District 4 deserve representation on the Council. His resignation will begin the process to replace him and the Council can continue its important work without further interruption.
Without his resignation, the City Charter requires Palermo to forfeit his seat after three consecutive months of unexcused absences or six consecutive months of absence for any reason. If convicted, he would forfeit his seat. The City Law Department is also exploring other options that may be allowed to require forfeiture of his council seat.”
City Council President Pete Festersen also released a statement on Palermo’s detention.
The City Attorney has provided me with today’s detention order from U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl Zwart detaining Councilmember Vinny Palermo until his trial date.
This is a very concerning situation and it is difficult to see how Councilmember Palermo can continue to serve under these circumstances. I will be discussing this situation with him when that is possible.
Section 2.05 of the City Charter states that a Councilmember shall be deemed to have forfeited office if he or she is absent from regular Council meetings for three consecutive calendar months without being excused. If the office is forfeited, or should Councilmember Palermo resign before then, the City Council will begin a deliberate and transparent process to fill that vacancy to ensure residents of Council District 4 are represented on the City Council.
In the meantime, the City Council will uphold the revocation of Councilmember Palermo’s leadership position and continue to conduct the city’s business with integrity.
District 6 City Councilmember Brinker Harding also called for Palermo’s resignation.
Today it was announced that Vinny Palermo will remain in jail until his trial for federal offenses of criminal conspiracy, fraud, and corruption. Since Omaha’s City Charter calls for removal of an elected official for unexcused absences for a period of three consecutive months this essentially puts an end to Vinny’s ability to remain on Omaha’s City Council.
Each of us are elected to serve all citizens of Omaha, but we are elected by district. And, each district deserves to have equal representation on all matters concerning the City. Therefore, I feel it is incumbent upon Vinny Palermo to immediately resign from the Omaha City Council.
Palermo’s resignation would allow for the most expedient way to find the best person to serve the remaining two years of his term. Waiting for the “three-month clock” to run out (essentially the end of July) would leave District 4 without that voice for too long. The recall effort recently started likely would extend well past that date and would cost the citizens of Omaha to hold a special election. The remaining City Councilmembers could immediately begin the process to select and seat the next District 4 representative.”
It is disappointing that Councilmember Palermo finds himself caught up in these allegations. Given the conditions of his detention, it is important that he resign his position on the City Council immediately. The people of District 4 deserve representation from a person with boots on the ground.
District 3 Councilman Danny Begley declined to comment on the matter.
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