Former Democratic chairperson indicted for bribery

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An eight-count indictment has been returned against former Erie County Democratic Party chairman G. Steve Pigeon for bribing a New York state supreme court justice.

According to a press release from the United States Department of Justice, bribing a judge is a corruption of the justice system.

“Bribery of a judge strikes at the very core of our democracy,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco. “The independence of the judiciary is paramount to civilized society. Our prosecutors and law enforcement partners will pursue any and all attempts to corrupt our fundamental institutions, including the judiciary.”

According to the indictment, Pigeon offered favors and valuable gifts to former New York State Supreme Court Judge John A. Michalek “in exchange for official action.” Pigeon promised employment with Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign for a member of Michalek’s family, and offered to help the person get a job with the State Department.

He also allegedly agreed to support Michalek’s application for appointment to the appellate division of the New York State Supreme Court. In exchange, the release says he obtained “favorable judicial decisions from Michalek and to control who Michalek would appoint to a paid court receivership.”

Pigeon was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services wire fraud, three counts of honest services wire fraud, one count of federal programs bribery, and three counts of violation of the Travel Act. He was arraigned Friday morning and released on conditions pending trial.

You may read the full press release from the Department of Justice below:

Former Upstate New York Democratic Party Chair Indicted for Bribery Scheme

A federal grand jury sitting in the Western District of New York returned an eight-count indictment against a former Erie County, New York Democratic party chair for bribing a New York State supreme court justice.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. for the Western District of New York made the announcement.

“Bribery of a judge strikes at the very core of our democracy,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Blanco. “The independence of the judiciary is paramount to civilized society. Our prosecutors and law enforcement partners will pursue any and all attempts to corrupt our fundamental institutions, including the judiciary.”

“The detailed facts set forth in the indictment provide evidence not only of the charges contained therein but of the tremendous investigation conducted by agents from the Buffalo Division of the FBI together with their partners at the New York State Attorney General’s Office and the New York State Police,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “The indictment speaks for itself.”

G. Steven Pigeon, 56, of Buffalo, New York, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services wire fraud, three counts of honest services wire fraud, one count of federal programs bribery and three counts of violation of the Travel Act.

According to the indictment, between February 2012 and April 2013, Pigeon offered and provided things of value to former New York State Supreme Court Judge John A. Michalek, in exchange for official action. Specifically, Pigeon promised employment for a member of Michalek’s immediate family with the 2012 campaign to reelect President Barack Obama; offered to help the same family member obtain employment with the U.S. Department of State; and agreed to support Michalek’s application for appointment to the appellate division of the New York State Supreme Court, all to obtain favorable judicial decisions from Michalek and to control who Michalek would appoint to a paid court receivership.

Pigeon was arraigned this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Roemer and released on conditions pending trial of this matter before the Honorable Richard J. Arcara, U.S. District Judge.

The indictment is the result of an investigation by the FBI Buffalo Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Adam S. Cohen; the New York State Attorney General’s Office, under the direction of Eric T. Schneiderman; and the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Edward Kennedy. The case is being prosecuted by Deputy Chief John Keller of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul E. Bonanno of the Western District of New York.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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