City Council candidate: York 'lifted me up when I didn't deserve it'
York City Council candidate Chris Velez says the city's willingness to forgive his past crimes inspired him to represent its citizens.
Velez, 34, spent 22 months in prison after cleaning out a significant other's bank account when he was 17, about to turn 18, and also later served probation on forgery charges. But he has learned his lesson and now wants to serve the city in the best way he can, he said.
“My main goal is to show those who have been in situations with law enforcement that there is a path forward,” said Velez, one of four candidates running for two seats on the council. “Your past doesn’t hinder you from being a decent person. And this community has shown me that.”
At the age of 17, Velez shared a bank account with a significant other, he said. During a dispute, he cleaned the bank account out. It was a "significant" amount of money, but he doesn't remember the dollar amount, he said.
Because he was a minor at the time, records of the incident are sealed. But at the age of 20, he was sentenced to 22 months in prison.
“(The city) lifted me up when I didn’t deserve it,” Velez said.
Years later, in 2011, Velez was charged with two separate counts of third-degree felony forgery as well as a first-degree misdemeanor of theft by deception.
The felony charges were nolle prossed, or dismissed. Velez entered a nolo contendere plea for the misdemeanor charge, meaning he did not contest the charges.
In that case, according to charging documents, Velez found a website where he could make money as a "mystery shopper."
After signing up for the alleged job, he received two money orders of $980 each. He deposited the money orders, and Integrity Bank soon discovered they were counterfeit.
Velez said he was not aware the money orders were not legitimate, but he was initially sentenced to five years of probation.
His probation has since been extended, according to court records. Most recently, in January, his probation was extended by two years as he continues to pay restitution.
In 2019, he was also charged with theft by deception and theft of services, both of which are third-degree felonies.
The theft by deception charge was dismissed, and the theft of services charge led to a Rule 586 settlement, meaning Velez essentially paid restitution to get the charge dismissed.
Velez isn't the only City Council candidate with a criminal record. Fellow Democratic candidate Ryan Supler also has faced felony charges.
Supler has two DUI convictions, one of which included a felony charge for fleeing or attempting to elude an officer. In that 2012 case, he pleaded guilty to fleeing, resisting arrest and DUI, according to court records.
Supler received his second DUI in 2018 and pleaded guilty.
The primary election will take place May 18. Other candidates for York City Council include Felicia Dennis and Betsy Buckingham, both of whom are Democrats.
— Logan Hullinger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.