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Whole Foods developer sues former assembly member/lobbyist

December 05, 2018 06:40 PM

The developers of the Whole Foods Plaza in Brighton are suing a former state assemblyman and the man they think encouraged him to take a bribe that impacted their business.

Daniele Management & Development filed a complaint in federal court on Tuesday alleging that Joseph Errigo, Joseph Rittler, and unnamed “John Does” conspired to deprive them of property without due process of law.  

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The U.S. Attorney’s office says Errigo accepted a $10,500 bribe in exchange for introducing a bill that would give the New York State Department of Transportation the authority to approve or disapprove zoning incentives or bonuses approved by town boards, for any property that abuts a highway under the jurisdiction of the state. Locally, the only project that would be impacted by that legislation, would be the Whole Foods Project in Brighton where the town has agreed to incentive zoning.  

In the complaint, attorneys for the Daniele family say “Errigo intended that such bill would obstruct, hinder, delay and/or prevent plaintiff from completing the Whole Foods development project…he specifically intended to deprive plaintiff of property, or property interests without due process of law.”

The complaint goes on to allege that Joseph Rittler, a former political staffer in Monroe County, was the person who paid the bribe to Errigo and “at some time in late 2017… defendant Rittler stated to a third-party, who was not involved in the Whole Foods opposition, that he was “doing work in opposition to the Whole Foods project.”  

Joseph Rittler has not been criminally charged by the U.S. Attorney’s office.

In a text message to News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke, Anthony Daniele, President of Daniele Management & Development says, “we have reason to believe there is more to this story that may lead back to those funding the opposition to the Whole Foods Plaza project, and we intend to get to the bottom of it.”

While the legislation was introduced by then-assemblyman Joe Errigo, it never made it out of committee. Despite that, the suit claims the Daniele’s have suffered damages believed to be in excess of $650,000. It seeks those monetary damages in addition to punitive damages and attorney’s fees.  

An attorney for former Assemblyman Joe Errigo has not yet returned a phone call for comment.  

Read the lawsuit in its entirety below:

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