Former-Syracuse parks commissioner Lazarus Sims pleaded guilty to stealing money from the city. Sims, who was suspended in March, resigned from his position earlier Monday.
In an apology letter, Sims admitted to taking $5,400 after falling on hard times financially. He apologized to those he hurt, including young people who looked up to him as a role model. Sims said he hopes to someday regain the trust of the community.
Sims was hired as parks commissioner in 2015, and was a Syracuse University basketball player in the 1990s.
A city audit revealed money went missing after Sims asked a local lacrosse league to pay cash to rent an indoor turf facility last year. Sims was arrested in April. He has since repaid the money and his felony was reduced to a misdemeanor. The judge ordered a one-year conditional discharge, telling him to stay out of trouble and not get arrested again.
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh accepted Sims’ resignation and said the city will search for a new commissioner.
Walsh's full statement is below.
“I accepted the resignation today of Lazarus Sims as Commissioner of Parks and Recreation. In working for city government, we are granted the public trust. There can never be actions or behaviors that undermine that trust in any way. I am saddened at the way Lazarus’s service to the city is ending. Despite this outcome, I wish him only the best in the future.
While we search for a new commissioner, Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens will continue to lead the department on an interim basis. Deputy Commissioner Julie LaFave will be responsible for day-to-day operations of the Department reporting to the Deputy Mayor. With that working structure in place, we will seek and review candidates to be our next commissioner, taking the time that is required to select the best qualified individual to lead this important function to the quality of life in this city.”