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Prosecutors to confer on Pokorski, 2 ex-aides

William Ragan, a former Erie County prosecutor investigating the final days of former Mayor Kenneth Pokorski's administration, was expected to meet with prosecutors today to discuss possible action against Pokorski, former Village Clerk-Treasurer Christine Dodds and former Village Attorney David Dale.

The investigation reviewed several cash transactions, including about $87,000 paid to Dale in late March as the village was closing its books for its fiscal year as well as payroll expenditures for Dodds exceeding those budgeted by the Village Board.

Village officials also pointed to a questionable $230,000 payment to the Buffalo Sewer Authority, which erased the village's reserve fund, leading to a tax rate increase of 38 percent.

Village Attorney Margaret Murphy told Village Board members at Tuesday night's meeting that the state Labor Department has ruled that Dodds is not eligible for unemployment benefits.

"[Dodds] treated village funds as if they were her own personal funds," Murphy said, reading from the Labor Department's decision.

Officials said the village had fought the payments because Dodds was an appointed government official and because she had overpaid her own salary, including 70 payroll checks over the course of a year.

"I provided [Ragan] with some additional information to give the district attorney," Murphy said. "I'm hoping the district attorney's office will recognize something needs to be done."

While board members are awaiting word on a criminal case, Murphy asked them to consider a civil action.

She said the process could be slow but added that the village is making slow progress against what several board members have branded a "rogue government."

Mayor Leonard Szymanski said he was dismayed at the prospect of having to use village funds to recover money that never should have been paid out.

"Everyone knows they're wrong," he said. "Why does it cost us so much to prove them guilty?"

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