The criminal case against County Legislator Gregory B. Olma will get a fresh look by an Erie County grand jury.
Nine criminal charges against Olma were dismissed today in City Court. Instead, prosecutors will present the case to a grand jury next month.
Olma was arrested last week and charged with harassing and using racial epithets against two female elections inspectors, who are black, at an East Side polling place. Olma denies that the incident happened and says he never said the racist words.
The case has sparked calls for Olma's resignation from leaders of the minority community and his political opponents. He represents parts of the East Side and Cheektowaga.
After what had been scheduled as an arraignment this morning, Olma, 40, said he is confident the grand jury will clear him but made no further comment on advice of his attorney, Leigh E. Anderson.
Prosecutor John C. Doscher told Buffalo City Judge David M. Manz that Erie County District Attorney Frank J. Clark had instructed him to have the case dismissed.
Doscher made it clear to the judge and Olma that Clark wants to make a "direct presentment" of the case to a county grand jury for possible indictment.
Olma had been charged with nine counts of coercion, aggravated harassment, resisting arrest and harassment stemming from the Sept. 12 incident at a Fillmore Avenue polling place.
Anderson, Olma's attorney, said, "We have absolutely no comment concerning this matter until the case is ended." Clark and Doscher also declined to comment after today's brief court session, but court sources said a grand jury is expected to begin consideration of the Olma case late next month.
Olma, a maverick Democrat who has served four terms in the County Legislature and is a member of the county Democratic Party Committee, was arrested about two hours after the alleged incident, which reportedly occurred at about 9 p.m. Sept. 12 at the polling place in Adam Mickiewicz Library, 612 Fillmore Ave. Olma allegedly became abusive when the two women denied his request for election returns.