The long-awaited trial of former State Sen. George D. Maziarz on three felony election law violations, slated to begin in Albany County Court on Monday, has been delayed until Feb. 5.
Albany County Judge Peter A. Lynch, who was to preside over the non-jury trial, granted the Friday motions of defense attorneys Joseph M. LaTona of Buffalo and E. Stewart Jones of Troy seeking a delay. They sought the extra time because of unanticipated documents submitted by the Attorney General’s Office which required new and extensive preparation, Jones said.
Jones said the documents included information about connections of the Manhattan U.S. attorney to the case, as well an email sent this week from the state Board of Elections concerning its role.
“The Board of Elections is engaged in an internal debate as to whether a crime was committed when it involves a pass-through,” Jones said, referring to a series of campaign fund transactions lying at the heart of the case.
A spokesman for attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, who brought the charges against the Newfane Republican in March, declined comment.
But the new information now to be studied by defense attorneys is expected to figure significantly in the case against Maziarz.
Schneiderman alleges that Maziarz orchestrated a “multi-layered pass through scheme” that enabled him to use money from his own Committee to Elect Maziarz State Senate, and also from the Niagara County Republican Committee. He is charged with funneling secret campaign payments to former Niagara County Legislator Glen S. Aronow, who had left the senator’s government staff amid charges of sexual harassment.
According to court filings, the two committees paid Aronow $49,000 in 2012 and $46,000 in 2013-14. To conceal the payments and to avoid public scrutiny of his decision to retain the staffer for campaign work – the state contends Maziarz and others falsely reported the expenditures on five separate filings with the Board of Elections.
When it resumes next year, the case is expected to feature much of the Niagara County Republican establishment over which Maziarz presided as a behind the scenes political boss for more than two decades. Several prominent Niagara County Republicans had been expected to testify at the trial next week, some of whom were granted immunity last spring by an Albany County grand jury.
The February date results chiefly from Lynch's crowded court calendar, sources said.