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SLOAN TO PROBE MAYORAL PAYOUTS

The Sloan Village Board voted Tuesday to hire an investigator to look into the expenditure of more than $300,000 in village funds at the end of former Mayor Kenneth Pokorski's term.

The payments, made without board approval during the final week of March, include $230,0000 to the Buffalo Sewer Authority and slightly more than $87,000 to David Dale, the village's former attorney.

The investigation also will look into accusations that computer hard drives in the clerk-treasurer's office were erased and that financial statements and other bank-related records are missing, officials said.

Mayor Leonard Szymanski, who was elected in March after Pokorski declined to seek re-election, said that hiring the investigators is important to the village's integrity.

"By having a special investigation by an objective third party we believe that former village officials can be held accountable for their actions, which have damaged the village's financial condition," said Szymanski, who declined to be more specific.

The board approved spending $6,500 to hire William J. Ragan, a former Erie County prosecutor, and Jacob Ulewski Jr., a Buffalo Police lieutenant who is a licensed private investigator.

Board members asked for a report in June to determine whether criminal or civil actions should be pursued.

Village Attorney Margaret Murphy said the investigation also might find no misconduct.

The case has an impact on the village's budget, which must be approved by May 31.

Pokorski's proposed budget calls for tapping the village's reserve fund to avoid increasing the tax rate.

But the payment to the sewer authority essentially wiped out the village's reserves, Murphy said.

"It means the tentative budget is out of balance," Murphy said, pointing out that she didn't want to accuse the former mayor of submitting a budget he knew wouldn't work.

Christine Dodds, the clerk-treasurer during Pokorski's administration, attended Tuesday's meeting but did not discuss the case.

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