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DA foresees charges on campaign finances Says investigation has found more than 'just ineptness' by Clark organization

District Attorney Frank J. Clark says he expects charges will result from his probe into the finances of former county executive candidate Paul T. Clark.

But the district attorney acknowledged he does not yet know who will be charged, what the charges will be, or when they will come.

"I think we've excluded the fact that this is just ineptness," he said. "How much more than that, right now I don't know."

He also said his investigation has determined that hundreds of missing computers belonging to Erie County most likely did not end up in the Paul Clark campaign. But he said that while accounting problems caused some computers to be listed as missing but are now accounted for, the whereabouts of several hundred others are still unknown.

Still, the probe is expected to determine whether any county resources or county employees working on county time were used by the Clark campaign.

The Buffalo News reported in October that the district attorney and the FBI were investigating the computers' whereabouts and that the Giambra administration had informed law enforcement that they were missing. The News also reported that several county employees were issued subpoenas to appear before a federal grand jury as part of the probe.

Frank Clark (no relation to Paul Clark) also said he continues to talk to central figures in the Paul Clark campaign, including marketing consultant Donald L. Turchiarelli, and attorneys Herbert L. Greenman and John P. Bartolomei, who are representing Paul Clark.

It is also expected that investigators will scrutinize the role of Mark Koller, an employee of Clark's accounting firm who acted as campaign treasurer.

In addition, the district attorney said he remains interested in the financial contributions to the campaign of Roger J. Peck Jr., the president of Crown Energy, who gave Paul Clark $28,500 during the campaign, while his company and other officials of the business gave thousands more.

"We're taking a look at the major contributors and their relationship to Clark and to the other people in the campaign," he said. He added he is still attempting to determine where campaign money originated and why it was not reported to the state Board of Elections.

Peck acknowledged in September that he loaned money to Clark, the West Seneca supervisor, during his Democratic primary contest against former Deputy County Executive James P. Keane and former Buffalo Mayor James D. Griffin. But he would not say how much, and Paul Clark said none of that money was lent to the campaign.

But since all financial aspects of the campaign are now under scrutiny, District Attorney Clark said he has questions about the involvement of Peck and others.

Both Paul Clark and Peck insist that the donations were not a payback for the exclusive contract that Supervisor Clark and other Town Board members awarded to Crown Energy in January 2000. According to Peck, his company makes a very small profit on its deal to supply the natural gas that heats West Seneca's Town Hall, library, Highway Department building and other municipal buildings.

The district attorney said he again expects to discuss the case with Turchiarelli, who acknowledged receiving $20,000 in cash in two bank bags from Michael W. Mullins, a Clarence businessman and campaign volunteer. No law enforcement officials involved in the case have indicated, however, that Turchiarelli is suspected of any wrongdoing.

In addition, Paul Clark has steadfastly maintained that Mullins was a lone wolf who was spending campaign money without authorization.

e-mail: rmccarthy@buffnews.com

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