Lazarus Sims, a former Syracuse University basketball player who was recently suspended from his position as Syracuse’s parks department commissioner has been charged with third-degree grand larceny, Syracuse.com reported on Tuesday.
Court documents show Sims is accused of stealing $5,400 from the city between Oct. 16, 2017 and Oct. 31, 2017 by pocketing cash payments from park rentals and city fees, according to Syracuse.com. An arraignment was held for Sims on Tuesday morning in the downtown Syracuse City Court.
After the discovery of financial discrepancies in the parks department during an audit conducted by City Auditor Marty Masterpole, Sims was put on administrative leave on March 26, Syracuse.com reported.
Sims pleaded not guilty to the charges, according to Spectrum News.
According to Syracuse.com, Sims was still collecting a paycheck after he was suspended by Walsh following the audit. Syracuse.com also reported that Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens will take over the parks department during Sim’s absence, and Deputy Commissioner Julie LaFave will oversee day-to-day operations.
Common Councilor Susan Boyle requested the audit in January after receiving information about the parks department from community members who raised concerns, Syracuse.com reported.
“This whole thing stinks. I hope the District Attorney says there’s nothing to see here,” Masterpole told Syracuse.com in late March. “But I couldn’t turn a blind eye to this.”
Sims was hired as parks commissioner in 2015 under former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner. He was reappointed on Dec. 31 when Walsh took office, according to Syracuse.com.
Syacuse.com also reported that Walsh said in a news release that he was saddened by the news of the charges.
“Lazarus has done a lot of good for Syracuse and, in particular, for young people in the city,” Walsh said in the news release, according to Syracuse.com.
Sims played basketball for SU as a point guard from 1992 to 1996. He helped lead the team to an NCAA championship that SU lost to Kentucky. Sims is also a Syracuse native and grew up playing basketball on the South Side, Syracuse.com reported.
After leaving SU, Sims went on to play professional basketball overseas and played for the Harlem Globetrotters, Syracuse.com reported.
In 2007, Sims returned to his alma mater to join SU Basketball Coach Jim Boeheim’s staff as the director of player development. After four years at SU, Sims left to become an assistant coach at Binghamton University.
According to Syracuse.com, Sims will return to court on May 7.
Published on April 17, 2018 at 9:44 pm
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