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Democratic sheriff candidate Rocco J. Diina promised Monday that if he is elected, his private security business will not contract with any Erie County agency -- a move he hopes will defuse an escalating Republican assault on his co-ownership of RJD Security.

"If I'm elected sheriff, RJD will do no business with the County of Erie," he said. "I will take every measure to remove even the slightest appearance of a conflict."

Diina, who has denied any potential for conflict between the role of sheriff and private security operator, responded to weekend allegations leveled by Frederick J. Marshall, minority leader of the County Legislature.

Marshall, R-East Aurora, warned that conflicts could arise as the county assumes responsibility for stadium security under the terms of a new lease agreement with the Buffalo Bills.

"I find it interesting that (Diina) is not willing to step forward and say that if he's elected, RJD Security will have no contracts with Erie County," Marshall said Sunday at a Rich Stadium news conference.

Monday, Diina did just that. And the Buffalo Police Department's deputy commissioner reiterated his stand that no conflict exists, nor will it exist. He said Marshall's claims centered around "hypotheticals."

"Sheriff Higgins has said there is no conceivable way my duties as sheriff could pose a conflict (with RJD)," Diina said. "And there hasn't been one person complaining about this other than my opponent."

Patrick Gallivan, the former State Police captain opposing Diina, has made his opponent's co-ownership of RJD a central issue of his campaign. He has posed questions similar to Marshall's about potential problems surrounding the sheriff's job and running a security business.

And Gallivan has raised the level of that debate by mentioning Diina's private business in every public forum possible.

Diina has responded to that criticism by continually labeling it "negative campaigning"

"My opponent is not qualified to be sheriff, so he is stooping to unethical and negative allegations," Diina said. "This is strictly political expedience."

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