A.G. Schneiderman Announces Indictment Of Political Consultant Steven Pigeon And Guilty Plea Of State Supreme Court Justice John A. Michalek
Steven Pigeon Indicted For Bribery, Rewarding Official Misconduct And Grand Larceny By Extortion
Supreme Court Justice Michalek Pleads Guilty To Felony Bribe Receiving And False Filing
Schneiderman: Anyone Who Breaches The Public Trust Will Be Held Accountable By My Office
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recently announced the unsealing of an indictment charging political consultant G. Steven Pigeon, 55, with Bribery in the Second Degree, a class C felony; Bribery in the Third Degree, a class D felony; Grand Larceny theft by extortion in the Third Degree, a class D Felony; and six counts of Rewarding Official Misconduct in the Second Degree, a class E felony. Pigeon was arraigned today by the Honorable Donald F. Cerio, Jr. Bail was set at $10,000 cash or $20,000 bond.
Schneiderman also announced the guilty plea of John A. Michalek, 65, a New York State Supreme Court Justice, in connection with the same alleged scheme, for receiving bribes from Pigeon, and for filing a false document with the New York State Office of Court Administration when he appointed a receiver who had been suggested by Pigeon. Michalek [pronounced MIKE-uh-lik] entered a guilty plea yesterday afternoon before Hon. Donald F. Cerio, Jr., in Erie County Supreme Court to two felonies, including Bribe Receiving in the Third Degree, a class D felony, and Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a class E felony. In addition to entering the plea, Michalek submitted a letter of resignation to the Chief Administrative Judge, effective immediately.
These charges stem from an ongoing public corruption investigation by the Office of the Attorney General.
“As we allege in today’s indictment, Steve Pigeon engaged in a multiyear scheme to bribe a sitting state judge in an effort to win access and favors for his clients and associates,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “I will not stand for this kind of brazen contempt for the rule of law and the interests of everyday New Yorkers. Anyone who breaches the public trust will be held accountable by my office. Our investigation is ongoing.”
Pigeon is alleged to have provided benefits to Michalek—including box seat tickets to Sabres games and a ticket to a $1,000 per head fundraiser—and agreed to help Michalek attempt to secure an appointment to the Appellate Division of the New York, in exchange for Michalek violating his duties as a judge. As alleged in the complaint, Michalek and Pigeon engaged in ex parte communication, during which time Michalek provided Pigeon confidential insight, and the opportunity to provide confidential input, into matters before the court. Those matters included active litigation in which Pigeon had an interest.
According to the complaint, during the course of their relationship, Michalek also appointed a Pigeon associate to a lucrative receivership. Michalek allegedly selected an attorney of Pigeon’s choosing to serve as a receiver, when that person was not on a court issued list of qualified receivers. In order to appoint that person, Michalek filed a document with the Office of Court Administration where he falsely claimed that he required that attorney’s expertise in handling that receivership.
The indictment also charges Pigeon with Grand Larceny by Extortion in relation to that appointment, by alleging that Pigeon illegally extracted an illegal $5,000 consulting fee from the same Michalek-appointed receiver.
According to the complaint, the communication between the two men shows that Michalek also sought Pigeon’s assistance in obtaining employment for one of his relatives and in seeking an appointment to a government position for a second relative.
Assistant Attorney General Susan H. Sadinsky of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau and Assistant Attorney General Diane M. LaVallee of the Attorney General’s Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau are prosecuting this case under the supervision of Public Integrity Bureau Chief Daniel Cort and Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz. The investigation was handled by Supervising Investigator Richard Doyle and Investigator Brian G. Ross of the Investigators Bureau, which is led by Deputy Chief Antoine Karam and Chief Dominick Zarrella, Senior Investigator of Major Crimes Christopher Weber of the New York State Police and Senior Agent Brian A. Burns of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Senior Analyst Robert Vanwey of the Attorney General’s Office also worked on the investigation. The Attorney General’s Office thanks First Assistant United States Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. and Assistant United States Attorney Joseph M. Guerra, III, Chief, Criminal Division of the United States Attorney’s Office of the Western District of New York for their work on the case. The Attorney General’s Office also wants to thank the New York State Board of Elections Division of Election Law Enforcement and Chief Enforcement Counsel Risa Sugarman for their assistance. Executive Deputy Attorney General Kelly Donovan leads the Criminal Justice Division.
The charges against the defendants are accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.