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Holt begins effort to retake seat on Legislature after being removed

George A. Holt Jr. launched a legal effort Monday to regain the Erie County Legislature seat taken from him last week because of his guilty plea to misdemeanor tax violations.

State Supreme Court Justice Kevin M. Dillon has scheduled proceedings late Thursday morning on Holt's effort to rescue his 13-year legislative career.

Holt, 58, pleaded guilty Jan. 8 to keeping $20,000 in sales taxes collected at his Buffalo restaurant and "willfully" filing two false sales tax reports from 2004.

State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr., supervising judge for all criminal courts in Western New York, took Holt's pre-indictment guilty plea to misdemeanor charges. Although Holt's sentencing is scheduled for March 9, Kloch told Holt that he doesn't plan on jailing the former Legislature chairman.

But the judge warned Holt, who has to pay $37,595.16 in both back state taxes and penalties, that at sentencing he will address him about his former role as "a leader in this community."

Holt, a Democrat who served as chairman of the Legislature in 2004 and 2005, was first elected in 1993. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he has a master's degree in elementary education.

Holt's final county paycheck is being adjusted to reflect that he technically stopped being a lawmaker the day of his plea. He has retained Rochester lawyer H. Todd Bullard to fight to regain his job.

Neither Holt nor Bullard, a former member of the Monroe County Legislature, could be reached to comment Monday.

Lynn M. Marinelli, chairwoman of the Erie County Legislature, terminated Holt's position effective Jan. 8, leaving the Legislature with no African-American members for the first time in decades. She made her decision based on a legal opinion by Erie County Attorney Laurence K. Rubin.

Democratic committee members in the 3rd District will be asked to offer a temporary replacement for Holt, as Democrats in the 7th District have been asked to offer a replacement for Demone A. Smith, who this year took a seat on the Common Council.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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