Joe Parisi, Mount Vernon weekly publisher, subpoenaed in Ernie Davis probe

City of Mount Vernon Mayor Ernie Davis replies City of Mount Vernon Mayor Ernie Davis replies to comments during an open meeting at City Hall as residents speak out against a proposed budget that calls for considerable tax increases. (Dec. 6, 2012) Photo Credit: Xavier Mascarenas

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The publisher of the Mount Vernon Inquirer said Wednesday that he has been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury as part of a widening investigation into Mount Vernon Mayor Ernie Davis' personal finances.

In a post on his website, Joe Parisi said he has been ordered to appear before a grand jury on May 21. He said the subpoena was delivered to him by an agent with the Internal Revenue Service on Tuesday.

Parisi, a longtime political supporter of Davis -- he recently attended a fundraiser for the embattled mayor -- wrote that he had rented office space from Davis and had turned over canceled rent checks to the IRS.

Parisi couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.

Federal prosecutors last week issued a subpoena to the city's Board of Ethics, seeking documents related to financial disclosure forms from Davis and at least one City Council member, Roberta Apuzzo, said sources familiar with the investigation. FBI agents and prosecutors from the U.S. attorney's office are investigating whether Apuzzo had someone else sign her financial disclosure forms, law enforcement sources said.

Federal investigators have issued a subpoena to City Clerk George Brown and taken documents from the City Clerk's office, sources close to the investigation said. Other City Hall department heads have been contacted, but not yet subpoenaed.

The federal probe launched in late November centers on how Davis, 74, came to own 10 properties in four states and whether he reported all the rental income he collected from the properties on his tax forms.

Davis was re-elected mayor in 2011, after being ousted in 2007, following three four-year terms as mayor.

Financial disclosure forms for Davis and other Mount Vernon officials have gone missing from City Hall archives, officials have told Newsday. The legal department has been unable explain what happened to the documents, required by the state.

After weeks of delay, Mount Vernon officials responded in March to a Newsday request for all financial disclosure forms filed by the mayor during his tenure in office. Officials said city records contain only one such form, from 2012.

Davis admitted to Newsday he amended his financial disclosure form for 2012 after he learned that federal officials were investigating him. The change added mention of a property he had omitted earlier.

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