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COMPLAINT FAULTS SORRENTINO'S COURT BID

A political rival of former Erie County Democratic chairman Vincent J. Sorrentino claims Sorrentino's political activities while he is seeking election to State Supreme Court violate the law.

George F. Hasiotis, who recently was replaced as a commissioner of the Erie County Water Authority, has called on the agency that investigates complaints against lawyers and judges to investigate Sorrentino's "blatant mixing" of his political activities with his quest for a judgeship.

Sorrentino, furnished with a copy of the complaint, said that Hasiotis' only motive "is to besmirch me. If he's so concerned (about a possible violation), how come he sent a copy to the newspaper?"

Hasiotis responded: "My relationship with Mr. Sorrentino has nothing to do with the merits of the claim."

Hasiotis delivered his complaint to the state Eighth Judicial District Grievance Committee and asked for a speedy investigation since the series of judicial nominating conventions begin today.

Vincent L. Scarsella, principal counsel to the committee, said its policy is to neither confirm nor deny that a complaint has been made.

However, as a general rule, when a complaint is made, the target of it is given two weeks to respond, so action within a matter of days is unlikely.

While not a declared candidate, Sorrentino's candidacy is well known and he has continued "shamelessly mixing politics with the judicial selection process," Hasiotis said.

That became blatant recently when Sorrentino sent mailings backing G. Steven Pigeon for re-election as party chairman, he said.

Said Sorrentino in reply, "what is blatant is he got his butt kicked last night," (when Pigeon was re-elected over County Clerk David J. Swarts, whom Hasiotis backed).

Sorrentino said he has made no secret of his political activities, but they are allowable since -- officially at least -- he is not a candidate.

"You don't become a candidate until you publicly announce it or hold a fund-raiser," Sorrentino said.

What about his Sept. 14 letter to the judicial delegates saying "I am seeking your support for the position (of State Supreme Court justice)?"

That was not a public announcement, Sorrentino said.

Asked if he isn't walking a fine line, he replied, "Everything's a fine line."

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