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LaFalce to join anti-casino team

A group fighting a Seneca Indian casino in Buffalo will announce a new member of its team on Monday: a former congressman who co-wrote the legislation he says the Senecas are misusing to build their casinos.

John J. LaFalce, who along with fellow Rep. Amo Houghton authored the Salamanca Settlement Act, will discuss his new role in a morning news conference called by Citizens for a Better Buffalo.

The group also is expected to announce that the Baird Foundation is joining its cause and will help provide financing for the state and federal lawsuits under way.

LaFalce and Houghton have both said that casino gambling was never in their minds when they wrote the Salamanca act.

The legislation was designed to repay the Senecas for a century's worth of unfair leases of Seneca lands by Salamanca residents and businesses. The Senecas, however, have used the act in the acquisition of land in Niagara Falls and Buffalo for their casinos.

LaFalce had not taken an active role in the litigation against the Senecas' proposed Buffalo Creek Casino because he had been a member of the Harris Beach law firm since leaving Congress. Harris Beach last month said LaFalce's outside interests and activities came into conflict with some of its clients -- though it would not say if the Seneca Nation or its casino subsidiary are among its clients -- and the firm and LaFalce announced a mutual parting of the ways.

e-mail: mbeebe@buffnews.com

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