Television commercials about his prosecutorial success rate are intolerably inaccurate, Erie County District Attorney Kevin M. Dillon complained Monday.
The ads are being aired by Russell P. Buscaglia, the Republican candidate to succeed Dillon as the county's top law enforcement official. His opponent is Frank J. Clark, Dillon's first deputy district attorney, endorsed by the Democratic and Conservative parties.
Dillon said Buscaglia, as the federal prosecutor, begged him to provide state immunity for two men the federal authorities used to convict former Buffalo Parks Commissioner Robert Delano. Dillon noted he convicted drug dealer Sly Green of murder in 1989.
Dillon also said the Buscaglia commercials give the public a false impression about local homicide prosecutions.
Dillon, who is running for State Supreme Court in next Tuesday's election, said the Buscaglia commercials falsely claim that five of the first six men tried for homicide in Erie County this year were acquitted.
"That is simply false," said Dillon, noting that four of the first six homicide trials his office handled this year resulted in convictions and that of 18 homicide cases he has taken to trial this year, 14 have ended in convictions.
Dillon said he is barred by state judicial ethical standards from publicly endorsing other political candidates while he runs for judge.
Dillon said he felt he had to make public comments about the Buscaglia commercials because he has "worked seven days a week for the past 8 1/2 years" and the Buscaglia commercials impugn his integrity and the integrity of his 91-lawyer office.
Since becoming district attorney, Dillon said, he has had a 90 percent conviction rate on felony cases handled by his office.
Contacted later Monday, Buscaglia defended his television commercials as "accurate, truthful and honest in every respect."
He said the ads correctly refer to acquittals in homicide cases, which include charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter and negligent homicide involving the death of one or more victims, such as last week's acquittal of boater Daniel English in the deaths of two Niagara River fishermen.
He called Dillon's bid to rebuke him publicly "an act of a desperate campaign" by Clark.
"Kevin Dillon is not the problem. The problem is Frank Clark," Buscaglia said. "Clark has shown he cannot handle tough cases, he cannot administer the office, and he cannot run his own campaign."
Buscaglia said Clark "cannot stand on his own and defend himself" and had to bring Dillon into the picture.
"Is that the type of district attorney the voters of Erie County want? I don't think so," Buscaglia said.