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KEY DELANO AIDE TAKES PLEA DEAL IN PARKS PROBE

The chief lieutenant in the city Parks Department has reached a plea bargain with federal investigators and will provide "complete and truthful information" about his former boss, Robert E. Delano.

Mark T. Czajkowski plans to resign his position as deputy parks commissioner and will plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of public corruption in the year-long parks probe, said Joseph M. LaTona, the attorney for Czajkowski.

"He came to this decision after many sleepless nights and a year of emotional turmoil for himself and his family," LaTona said of his client. "This has been a very difficult time for him."

LaTona confirmed the agreement after he and his client were seen outside the U.S. attorney's office at U.S. District Court this morning. Czajkowski will testify today before the grand jury investigating the parks case and will confer later with FBI agents, the lawyer said.

Czajkowski will plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge relating to his August 1987 purchase of a used city tractor, LaTona said.

Czajkowski plans to admit in court that he removed some parts from the Parks Department tractor before it was sold, the lawyer said. He then purchased it under another person's name for $900 and put the parts -- worth about $600 -- back into the tractor before taking it for his personal use.

"He will plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge that he submitted incorrect information to the city regarding the sale of that tractor," LaTona said.

When asked if this kind of activity was widespread in the Parks Department, LaTona said, "I'm not going to get into that."

Erie County District Attorney Kevin M. Dillon today also confirmed the accuracy of earlier Buffalo News accounts of his dealings with federal authorities on the Parks Department probe and his agreement
not to file state criminal charges against Czajkowski.

"I have been involved and I have conferred with federal authorities and they have made certain requests that I have acceded to," Dillon said.

Dillon declined to comment on whether his own staff is conducting a parallel investigation of possible irregularities in the Parks Department that might spark an Erie County grand jury probe.

But Dillon said federal authorities haven't asked him to file state charges against anyone in connection with information and evidence developed in the ongoing federal probe.

U.S. Attorney Dennis C. Vacco, who confirmed last month that his office was negotiating with Czajkowski, couldn't be reached to comment on today's developments.

Vacco has declined to comment on a WKBW-TV report, broadcast Friday, claiming another top Delano aide, Delaware Park Superintendent Ed Graci, also is negotiating a plea deal with prosecutors.

Czajkowski, 45, was the No. 2 man to Delano for approximately two years before Delano took a leave of absence from his job as parks chief in February.

For the past 18 months, the FBI and Vacco's office have been investigating widespread allegations that parks workers, under Delano, improperly used city equipment and parts to do work on private homes, businesses and vehicles.

What help can Czajkowski provide in the probe?

"At this point, all I am comfortable in saying is that he will provide complete and truthful information about the Parks Department to the federal government, and if necessary, any local authority that might be investigating this case," LaTona said.

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