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State judge questioned in investigation of Pigeon over campaign finances

State and federal investigators have questioned at least one State Supreme Court justice in recent days in the nearly year-old probe into Buffalo political operative G. Steven Pigeon’s campaign finance activities, according to three sources familiar with the situation.

State and federal investigators last week questioned Justice John A. Michalek, who was elected in 2008 to a second 14-year term, the sources said.

Gerald J. Whalen, presiding justice of the Appellate Division, would not comment late Tuesday when asked whether any members of his court had been questioned in the probe.

The reports surfaced as indications that the pace of the probe has quickened in recent days, nearly a year after investigators conducted raids with search warrants at the waterfront home of Pigeon and others in the area.

The sources indicate that the questions for the judge stemmed from examination of emails on computers seized at Pigeon’s home.

None of the sources wanted to be identified.

A spokesman for State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, who has led the investigation, would not comment.

Michalek did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Since 2014, investigators from the Attorney General’s Office, the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the FBI have probed the WNY Progressive Caucus, which raised about $267,000 for candidates challenging those endorsed by Democratic headquarters in the 2013 primary elections.

Pigeon, a former Erie County Democratic chairman, was among those whose homes were searched May 28 by law enforcement officers as a result of the probe. The state and federal investigation includes questions about “elevated” payments for advertising, mailings and other political activities, a law enforcement official said at the time.

The homes of former Buffalo Deputy Mayor Steven M. Casey and Christopher M. Grant, a political consultant and former aide to Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, were also searched in the May 28 raids.

email: rmccarthy@buffnews.com