CHEEKTOWAGA – An Erie County grand jury has handed up an indictment charging political operatives Steven Pigeon, Kristy Mazurek, and David Pfaff each with two class E felonies in violation of Election Law.
New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman says the charges stem from their unlawful coordination with candidates for the Erie County Legislature during the September 2013 Democratic primary.
According to the indictment, Mr. Pigeon, Ms. Mazurek, and Mr. Pfaff are alleged to have engaged in illegal campaign coordination while acting on behalf of the Western New York Progressive Caucus and Western New York Freedom.
“Today’s indictment sends a clear message that we’ll continue to aggressively enforce our state’s election and campaign finance laws,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “As we allege, the defendants illegally coordinated with their own handpicked candidates for office, using a political committee to circumvent the law and undermine the integrity of our elections. These actions aren’t just illegal – they erode the public trust, and we intend to hold them accountable.”
Mr. Schneiderman says Mr. Pigeon and Ms. Mazurek are alleged to have created WNYPC for the purpose of electing their preferred candidates and so that many of the candidates funded by WNYPC were relying almost entirely on the political committee for all campaign-related expenditures. However, very little money was raised by the candidates themselves.
One candidate raised just $125 between July 27, 2013, and September 10, 2013, while WNYPC received approximately $283,000 in contributions and spent extensively in support of the candidate’s campaign – resulting in the vast majority of the candidate’s campaign-related costs being borne by WNYPC rather than the candidate’s committee.
Mr. Schneidermans also says the defendants – on behalf of WNYPC – sought input from two candidates regarding campaign literature and arranged for them to appear at a photo shoot paid for by WNYPC. WNYPC also paid other expenses on behalf of one of the candidates that exceeded the $1,476.50 contribution limit of that race by over $15,000; and paid nearly $12,000 worth of expenses over the $2,192.70 contribution limit for the second candidate’s race.
Mr. Pegeon’s attorney Paul J. Cambria Jr., and Ms. Mazurek attorney, Joel Daniels, both told the Buffalo News that the charges will be challenged in court.
Ms. Mazurek lost a 2016 Democratic primary bid for the 143rd Assembly Seat to Monica Wallace.
Mr. Pigeon is currently under indictment for the crimes of Bribery in the Second Degree, Bribery in the Third Degree, six counts of Rewarding Official Misconduct in the Second Degree, and Grand Larceny in the Third Degree according to the attorney general’s office.
The charges arise from conduct involving former State Supreme Court Justice John A. Michalek, who resigned from the bench after pleading guilty to the felony charges of Bribe Receiving in the Third Degree and Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree on June 29, 2016. Mr. Pigeon is also under federal indictment for Conspiracy, Wire Fraud, Bribery, and Travel Act charges; that case is pending before Federal Magistrate Michael J. Roemer.
The three defendants were previously arraigned on a felony complaint regarding the same charges on April 19, 2017.