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Activist's suit seeks ouster of supervisor, comptroller

A politically active West Seneca resident has filed a lawsuit calling for the removal of the town's supervisor and comptroller for "maladministration and misconduct" relating to town finances and politics.

Daniel T. Warren alleges that the misuse of town credit cards by the service organization AmeriCorps occurred because of auditing and financial recording failures by Town Comptroller Robert J. Bielecki and a lack of oversight by Supervisor Wallace C. Piotrowski.

"Were those issues in the past administration? Absolutely," Warren said. "But guess what? They continued on in the current administration."

Warren bases his case on a state comptroller's report released in September, minutes from Town Board meetings and recent Buffalo News articles. The state report described misuse of town credit cards by AmeriCorps employees and improper oversight by town officials from January 2006 to January 2010. Piotrowski and Bielecki took office January 2008.

Piotrowski and Bielecki declined to comment on the suit but, in statements, labeled the case a "frivolous proceeding" that would waste taxpayer dollars. They said Warren has a record of filing "baseless lawsuits for political purposes."

Warren previously filed lawsuits against the town contesting construction of a Canisius High School athletic field on Clinton Street, provisional appointments lasting more than nine months and the elimination of two Town Board seats in 2009 rather than 2012. Two suits were dismissed, while a second cause of action in one of the suits is still pending.

Piotrowski and Bielecki have until May 2 to file their responses to the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court.

Warren alleges that financial problems outlined in the state comptroller's report were not corrected and that Bielecki failed to provide monthly financial reports to the Town Board after the report.

Bielecki said the town was taking steps to correct deficiencies prior to the report's release. In his response to the report, Bielecki said he agreed with many of the comptroller's conclusions but took exception to the one saying the Town Board could not rely on the comptroller's records. "We instituted all the policies and all the suggestions required by the comptroller," Piotrowski told The News.

The petition also states that Piotrow-ski's review of town offices in 2008 failed to ensure that they were meeting their legal responsibilities. Warren alleges that Bielecki did not perform an annual audit of town departments or require proof from AmeriCorps. He also alleges that Piotrowski paid claims that were not properly audited by the comptroller.

Piotrowski declined to comment on the allegations, saying that more facts would be revealed during litigation.

Warren also alleges that civil service, penal and ethics laws were violated when Piotrowski lobbied for the appointment of Joseph C. Lorigo as town prosecutor. Piotrowski told The News in February that he would not agree to promote the husband of Councilwoman Sheila M. Meegan if Meegan didn't agree to the appointment of Lorigo as town prosecutor.

"In effect, what Mr. Piotrowski did was offer Mrs. Meegan a bribe," Warren said.

Piotrowski denies any wrongdoing.

e-mail: cspecht@buffnews.com

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