Tag: corruption

May 11

2022

Maziarz sues OTB alleging “fraud”

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Updated on Thursday, May 12, at 5:25 p.m. Former New York State Sen. George Maziarz wants a judge to order  officials from Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. to reimburse taxpayers for benefits he says they improperly obtained while using the public agency as a “slush fund, an ATM [and] a piggy bank.”  OTB leaders, meanwhile, want Maziarz to shut up. In a lawsuit filed Saturday in state Supreme Court in Erie County, Maziarz alleges that the misuse of public resources by OTB higher-ups has prevented the agency’s “massive revenues” from being “fairly distributed to the municipalities and taxpayers it serves.” [...]

Posted 7 months ago

Sep 11

2019

Federal grand jury to investigate OTB

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A federal grand jury is investigating possible corruption at the Western Regional Off Track Betting Corp. Sources told Investigative Post and the Niagara Gazette the grand jury is looking into issues previously reported by the two news organizations, including the: Provision of free health insurance to the board’s part-time board members. Awarding of vendor contracts to businesses with political ties to OTB President Henry Wojtaszek and Chairman Richard Bianchi. Possible distribution of tickets purchased by OTB to Sabres and Bills games to friends, family members and political associates of OTB executives and board members. In addition, the state comptroller has[...]

Posted 3 years ago

May 31

2019

Ciminelli appeals corruption conviction

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 Lawyers for Louis Ciminelli have appealed his felony conviction last summer on corruption charges related to the Buffalo Billion. Ciminelli, president of LPCiminelli, and Alain Kaloyeros, head of a state-affiliated development corporation, were convicted for their roles in the awarding of the contract to develop the $750 million facility to house Tesla’s solar panel manufacturing plant. Jim Heaney told WGRZ that Ciminelli’s attorney is using the same failed legal arguments in the appeal that he did during the trial.  

Posted 4 years ago

Apr 26

2019

FBI investigating Buffalo-area OTB

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The FBI is investigating the awarding of lucrative contracts by the Western Regional Off Track Betting Corp. to politically wired companies. The investigation, confirmed by multiple sources, is looking into contracts involving firms with ties to OTB Chairman Richard Bianchi, a member of the Monroe County Conservative Party’s executive committee, and CEO Henry Wojtaszek, former chairman of the Niagara County Republican Committee. The full scope of the probe is unclear and an FBI spokesperson would neither confirm nor deny the investigation. But sources told Investigative Post that it includes, at a minimum, contracts the OTB has awarded to at least[...]

Posted 4 years ago

Mar 15

2019

Key witness in ‘Billion case avoids prison

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 Kevin Schuler, the prosecution’s star witness in the Buffalo Billion corruption trial, escaped a prison term at his sentencing in Manhattan on Friday. Schuler was an executive at LPCiminelli who detailed the bid rigging scheme that resulted in the company landing the contract to build the SolarCity plant in South Buffalo. His testimony was key to convicting his former boss, Louis Ciminelli, and a top state economic development official, Alain Kaloyeros, on corruption charges. Both were sentenced to prison, although they remain free pending appeals. Schuler is required to perform 400 hours of community service over the next two[...]

Posted 4 years ago

Mar 6

2019

OTB protecting its perks

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The regional Off Track Betting Corporation has a story – two stories, actually – and they’re sticking to them. Officials there continue to insist that the OTB is authorized to provide health, dental and vision insurance free of charge to its board of directors. Gold-plated insurance, described to me by one health insurance expert as “literally the richest plan available.” I reported in December that the state Attorney General issued an opinion in 2008 that appears to conclude that OTBs are not permitted to provide health insurance coverage to board members. President Henry Wojtaszek responded by pledging to ask the[...]

Posted 4 years ago

Dec 11

2018

Buffalo Billion criminals get off easy

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Hold up a gas station and you’re looking at a minimum of five years in prison. Get napped with an ounce of crack and the mandatory minimum is five to ten years. Engage in bid rigging, and in the process violate the public’s trust and cost taxpayers potentially million of dollars? If you’re Louis Ciminelli, the sentence is 2 years and 4 months. For Alain Kaloyeros, 3½ years. Minus time off for good behavior, of course. And don’t worry about starting your sentence anytime soon. You’re a free man until you and your high-priced lawyers have exhausted the appeals process.[...]

Posted 4 years ago

Nov 2

2018

Missing Maziarz funds remain a mystery

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The office of Sen. George Maziarz did such a poor job tracking spending from his campaign account that it’s impossible to know exactly what became of up to $350,000, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said Thursday in explaining why he isn’t pressing charges against anyone who handled the money. Maziarz, who did not seek re-election in 2014 after being charged with unrelated campaign finance law violations, had accused his campaign treasurer, chief of staff and office manager of stealing the funds for their personal use. The state Board of Elections first looked into the matter and found the campaign’s[...]

Posted 4 years ago