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Feds charge Assemblyman Joe Errigo with accepting bribes, wire fraud

October 10, 2018 07:05 PM

The FBI has charged Assemblyman Joseph Errigo with bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds and honest services wire fraud.

According to a criminal complaint, Errigo had an "unusually close relationship" with a lobbyist regarding a bribery scheme.

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The complaint says the lobbyist and bribe payer wanted a new state law that would reduce local control over a 'pending development project, and give the power to the state.' The complaint also says the lobbyist and bribe payer enlisted Errigo to introduce the bill. He did it last March.

Over the course of three months, the U.S. attorney says the bribe payer paid Errigo and the lobbyist more than $10,000. Errigo allegedly accepted a total of $5,500.

He was arraigned and released on his own recognizance. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The complaint says the original scheme included a bribe payer, a lobbyist and an Assembly member only identified as Member A.

The complaint says in September 2017, the threesome enlisted Errigo to introduce the bill so that the plan could not be traced back to Member A.

The complaint says Errigo agreed. 

The bill number is A10227. The Assembly's webpage shows it was introduced as a bill on March 26, 2018 and placed into the Assembly Transportation Committee. The committee is chaired by Rochester Assemblyman David Gantt. 

News10NBC contacted Assemblyman Gantt Wednesday afternoon. Gantt said he has no knowledge of the bill Errigo introduced and that he does not know who Member A is. 

On June 5, the Assembly Transportation Committee voted to hold the bill "in consideration" which effectively stops it from going anywhere. 

The Assembly webpage shows Gantt was "excused" from the vote. Local Assemblyman Harry Bronson voted "aye."

James Kennedy, U.S. Attorney Western NY: "By misusing his office to line his pockets, Assemblyman Errigo has, as alleged in the criminal complaint, undermined the integrity of our legislative process and abused the public's trust."

Brean: "What was the pending development project?" 

Kennedy: "It was a development project, again it wasn't specified in the complaint." 

Brean: "Was anyone else arrested today? "

Kennedy: "uh, no comment."

Brean: "No one else has been arrested with this case, only Assemblyman Errigo?"

Kennedy: "Not at this time. Not yet."

Joe Damelio, defense lawyer: "I can't think of a more poignant test of our justice system when a lawmaker is accused of a crime, or crimes, and he is held to the same accountability as the rest of the community -- nothing higher, nothing lower."

Attorney Joe Damelio says he's looking Joe Errigo's physical and mental health.

Errigo, 80, came out of retirement to fill the seat of Bill Nojay, who killed himself the day Nojay was supposed to be arrested on federal charges. 

Here's what we're working on: 

- what is the local project that has zoning issues? 
- who is Member A?
- and who is the lobbyist? 

Below is the statement from Assemblyman Brian Kolb, Minority Leader of the New York State Assembly. 
 
"The allegations against Assemblyman Joseph Errigo announced today are disturbing for everyone in state government and for the people of the 133rd Assembly District. We have just learned about the charges, and more facts will be presented as the legal process runs its course. If a crime has been committed, the guilty parties should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Any time these kinds of accusations are brought against a public official, it severely damages the public trust."

And here is the statement from Secretary of the NY Reform Party Frank Morano: 

"While the Assemblyman is entitled to the presumption of innocence as every American is, if what's being reported is true and he admitted to an FBI Agent that he accepted a bribe in order to introduce legislation, that flies in the face of everything the Reform Party stands for. We would hope that he would move out of state in order to give us the opportunity to replace him with another candidate, more in line with the Reform Party's principles.

Additionally, the fact that he would need to move out of state or be nominated for another office in order to come off the ballot at this point, points to a very troubling flaw in our election system. Any candidate should be able to come off the ballot within any reasonable amount of time without jumping through administrative hoops. I hope the legislature will rectify this absurd practice forthwith."  
 

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