An Erie County grand jury now agrees with Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman — G. Steven Pigeon and two associates should stand trial for felony election law charges.
Pigeon, Kristy L. Mazurek and David B. Pfaff were all indicted Friday for allegedly illegally coordinating the funds of their political committee with Democratic candidates in the 2013 election for County Legislature.
The indictments formalize the complaint that Schneiderman’s staff lodged against the trio in April, and it is now expected they will be arraigned in the next week or two before the State Supreme Court justice from Madison County assigned to the trial, Donald F. Cerio Jr.
“Today’s indictment sends a clear message that we’ll continue to aggressively enforce our state’s election and campaign finance laws,” Schneiderman said. “As we allege, the defendants illegally coordinated with their own handpicked candidates for office, using a political committee to circumvent the law and undermine the integrity of our elections. These actions aren’t just illegal – they erode the public trust, and we intend to hold them accountable.”
Pigeon, the 56-year-old former Erie County Democratic chairman, now faces three felony charges in connection with his alleged exercising his political influence.
In June 2016, he was indicted by a grand jury convened by Schneiderman on charges of bribery and larceny for allegedly helping two relatives of former State Supreme Court Justice John A. Michalek find jobs. The state alleges that, in return, the judge allegedly assigned a lucrative court case to an attorney friend of Pigeon’s, among other actions.
Michalek resigned from his job and pleaded guilty to bribery charges while agreeing to become a state witness against Pigeon.
Pigeon also faces federal charges in a felony indictment returned in October dealing with many of the state allegations.
The former chairman has denied all of the charges brought against him and has labeled them politically motivated. His attorney, Paul J. Cambria Jr., put little weight in the Friday indictments and said he is looking forward to answering them in court.
“There is nothing to them,” he said. “These are the same charges and we will deal with it as it goes along.”
Mazurek, 46, a longtime Pigeon associate who ran for the Assembly from Cheektowaga in 2016 as she was under investigation by Schneiderman, is represented by Joel A. Daniels. He said on Friday she will answer the charges.
“These are rare if not unprecedented charges, and the attorney general seems to go to great lengths to try to untangle the complex election law,” Daniels said.
Pfaff, 58, has an even longer association with Pigeon. Attorney Kevin W. Spitler, who is defending him, was unavailable late Friday.
Schneiderman’s newest move marks the third set of felony charges lodged against Pigeon and stem from his efforts in the 2013 Democratic primary with political committees called the Western New York Progressive Caucus and Western New York Freedom.
Now the state alleges he and his associates bypassed contribution limits on individual candidates by allegedly illegally coordinating its efforts with the candidates. Whenever confronted by such allegations throughout his career, Pigeon has denied such charges.
The attorney general charges that very little money was raised by the candidates themselves ‑ Rick Zydel and Wes Moore – who were running against those backed by Democratic headquarters.
Since he left the chairmanship in 2002, Pigeon has often worked to defeat candidates backed by party leaders.