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Two prosecutors had political, professional ties to Michalek

The pair of assistant attorneys general prosecuting the case against former State Supreme Court Justice John A. Michalek have in the past maintained professional and political ties to the defendant, including serving as campaign treasurer for his 2008 re-election.

A spokesman for Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman acknowledges that Susan H. Sadinsky, lead prosecutor in the case, acted as campaign treasurer when Michalek ran for a second term in 2008. Matt Mittenthal also acknowledged that Sadinsky and her co-counsel in the case – Diane M. LaVallee – received court fees over the years for services rendered in cases assigned by Michalek.

But Mittenthal said Friday that Sadinsky reported her past activities to the attorney general’s conflict-of-interest board and received approval to continue prosecuting the case. He said the Attorney General’s Office is now also aware of the fees approved by the judge for legal services in the past.

Both prosecutors are also handling the case against political operative G. Steven Pigeon of Buffalo, who was arraigned on nine bribery-related charges returned by a special grand jury convened by Schneiderman on June 30 – one day after Michalek plead guilty to similar charges.

As part of his plea agreement, Michalek resigned from the bench on June 29.

“As indicated by Justice Michalek’s guilty plea and the very serious criminal charges against Mr. Pigeon, the prosecutors in this case proceeded aggressively and impartially in their pursuit of a brazen bribery and extortion scheme that should offend anyone who believes in the rule of law,” Mittenthal said. “No one – regardless of years-old affiliations or connections – is above the law.”

Time Warner Cable first reported on Thursday that Sadinsky served as the chief financial officer for the Michalek campaign in a capacity that centers around fundraising and submitting campaign finance reports to the state Board of Elections.

The Buffalo News also determined that court records indicate LaVallee was appointed by Michalek in 2006 as a “court evaluator” in two cases, receiving $3,237.50. Sadinsky was appointed by the judge as a “guardian” in one of the same cases in which LaVallee participated, receiving $1,143.30. The appointments were made and approved by the judge.

Carrie H. Cohen, Michalek’s attorney, did not return a call seeking comment.

News Staff Reporter Dan Herbeck contributed to this report. email: rmccarthy@buffnews.com