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Parenti agrees to settlement Bitter election race led to libel complaint

Gary D. Parenti, who accused Niagara County Democratic Chairman Daniel Rivera of using his former job as an insurance investigator to dig into his background during a bitter election race last year, said Friday he has received an out-of-court settlement from Rivera's former employer.

Parenti wouldn't say how much he was paid by Liberty Mutual to settle the case.

"I received a check, and I'll deposit it in my personal account," Parenti said.

Parenti sued Rivera for $4.35 million for libel, slander and defamation within a week after Rivera published an article slamming him in the Tonawanda News Aug. 31, less than two weeks before the 2006 primary election.

Parenti lost that race to the candidate Rivera supported, Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, D-Niagara Falls.

Rivera's op-ed piece dredged up Parenti's record of having been arrested for driving while intoxicated in 1997 and also accused him of having been fired from two state jobs.

Parenti said at the time he resigned as an aide to former State Sen. Anthony Nanula to become Western New York regional director for the Assembly, and later resigned that post.

About the same time, media outlets received photocopies of records regarding a harassment charge filed against Parenti in Buffalo in 2002.

Parenti's campaign manager wrote a letter to the state Insurance Department, alleging that Rivera used his position with Liberty Mutual to get into sealed court files and dig up dirt on Parenti.

Rivera left Liberty Mutual the week after the primary; neither he nor the company has explained why.

Asked Friday if he thought the settlement confirmed his accusations against Rivera, Parenti replied, "Absolutely." Rivera did not return calls seeking comment.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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