By Tony Aiello

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A high-powered lawyer who chairs the Mount Vernon Board of Ethics is facing criminal charges.

In a launch video for his City Council campaign, Gregory Cannata cited his service on the city’s board of ethics.

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“We need good people in government to enforce the laws,” he said.

Now, the lawyer is charged with breaking laws.

“People talk about dirty politics, but this was more than that,” Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah told CBS2’s Tony Aiello.

Rocah charged Cannata with attempted coercion for allegedly demanding the campaign of rival Janice Duarte drop a challenge to his ballot petitions.

Duarte recorded the conversation.

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“I just want you to know that there are consequences,” Cannata allegedly said. “If you want a taste of what I’m gonna give you… I am going to be ruthless with you. I will be sending out weekly emails blasting you every chance I get.”

“She had to cease that legal right to file those objections or her career, her business, her economic status would be destroyed,” Rocah said.

Last week, the Board of Elections upheld the challenge to Cannata’s petitions and booted him off the ballot.

“This really crossed a line. Councilwoman Duarte spoke about feeling unsafe,” Rocah said.

A source at City Hall told Aiello it is likely Cannata will be quickly removed from his post on the board of ethics.

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He pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges and did not reply to a request for comment.

Tony Aiello