A.G. Schneiderman Announces Grand Jury Indictment Of Steve Pigeon, Kristy Mazurek, And David Pfaff
Western New York Political Operatives Charged With Knowingly and Willfully Engaging In Illegal Campaign Coordination
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recently announced a grand jury indictment charging G. Steven Pigeon, 56, Kristy Mazurek, 46, and David Pfaff, 58, each with two class E felonies in violation of Election Law section 14-126 (5), related to unlawful coordination with candidates for the Erie County Legislature. The three defendants were previously arraigned on a felony complaint regarding the same charges on April 19, 2017 before the Hon. Donald F. Cerio, Jr., in New York State Supreme Court, Erie County.
According to the indictment, Pigeon, Mazurek, and Pfaff are alleged to have knowingly and willfully engaged in illegal campaign coordination while acting on behalf of the Western New York Progressive Caucus (“WNYPC”) and Western New York Freedom (“WNYF”), “unauthorized political committees,” regarding the nomination for election of two political candidates in the September 10, 2013 Democratic primary. Each defendant faces a maximum sentence of four years if convicted on either count. The indictment stems from a joint investigation conducted by the Office of the Attorney General, the New York State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the New York State Board of Elections.
“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.”
According to the original felony complaint, Pigeon and 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. In fact, as the felony complaint detailed, very little money was raised by the candidates themselves. For example, 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.
As the original felony complaint also alleged, 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.
An unauthorized political committee is a political committee that is not specifically authorized by one candidate or a group of candidates to raise or spend money on their behalf for their election.
Campaign coordination is a crime under the Election Law that is committed when a person knowingly and willfully solicits, organizes, or coordinates the activities of an unauthorized committee with the activities of a candidate or the candidate’s agents for the purpose of making expenditures on behalf of the candidate that exceed the contribution limit for that candidate’s race.
In addition to these new charges, 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. 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. 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.
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 Karan and Chief Dominick Zarrella, and Special 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 thanks Chief Enforcement Counsel Risa Sugarman and the New York State Board of Elections for their vital work on the case.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.