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GRACI NOW HELPING AUTHORITIES IN PARKS PROBE DELANO'S CLOSE CONFIDANT SIGNS PLEA BARGAIN WITH FBI, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE

Robert E. Delano's deputy commissioner and his closest confidant now are helping federal authorities investigate the Buffalo Parks Department.

A whirlwind of renewed activity in the parks probe continued Friday when sources said that Edward Graci, Delaware Park superintendent under Delano, has signed a plea bargaining agreement with the FBI and U.S. attorney's office.

The complete cooperation of Graci could be the biggest break yet in the 18-month corruption investigation, said retired parks worker Joseph Thompson and several present workers.

"Graci would know a lot about everything that went on in the department," said Thompson. "It's great news if he really gives his full cooperation. He was Bob Delano's point man."

Details of Graci's plea bargain, which a federal judge must approve, were not available.

The latest development would make Graci and Deputy Commissioner Mark "Murph" Czajkowski the first two to face criminal charges in the probe.

Czajkowski's attorney, Joseph M. LaTona, confirmed Thursday that the deputy commissioner will resign his city job and plead guilty to a misdemeanor public corruption charge.

The Buffalo News reported Friday that Graci and his attorney, Gerald M. Trafalski, met Thursday with federal prosecutors and FBI Agent Michael Vincent. Graci and Trafalski were unavailable to comment.

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