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CIRIFALCO'S ATTORNEY TO SEEK DISMISSAL OF CHARGES IN SALARY SCANDAL

The defense attorney for former Niagara County election commissioner Judith M. Cirifalco said Friday she will file a motion aimed at having the charges against her client dismissed.

Cirifalco is charged with two misdemeanors, official misconduct and second-degree falsifying business records, stemming from the Board of Elections salary scandal.

In a one-minute appearance before Acting City Judge David R. Wendt, attorney Michele G. Bergevin was given until March 9 to file her motion regarding the content of the grand jury minutes in the Cirifalco case.

Afterward, Bergevin said, "We're making a motion about the sufficiency of the grand jury minutes (and) if the evidence is sufficient to hold the charges."

She said she will invite Wendt to throw out the charges on grounds that the evidence won't support them.

Wendt gave First Assistant District Attorney Timothy R. Lundquist until April 6 to respond to Bergevin's motions once they are filed, and he scheduled courtroom arguments on the motions for April 20.

Cirifalco, a Democrat, is accused of signing a certified payroll in February 1999 containing salaries for herself and her Republican colleague, Michael J. Norris, of $37,624 a year. However, the County Legislature had voted them a 10 percent pay cut for 1999, making their salaries $33,856.

Cirifalco and Norris were also accused of intentionally omitting a page from their 2000 budget request that showed the pay cut had never been executed. Norris was granted immunity from prosecution and is expected to be the star prosecution witness if the case goes to trial.

County Legislator James W. Ward, R-Newfane, was also charged with official misconduct in connection with the alleged budget request omission. The request was brought before the Legislature's Administration Committee, which he chairs. Ward's next scheduled court date is Feb. 21, although it may be postponed.

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