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Panepinto won’t say whether he is under state investigation

When he faced questions about a pending state ethics probe back in March, State Sen. Marc C. Panepinto insisted he knew of no investigation and cited the need for an official notice from the Joint Commission on Public Ethics.

“No investigation can start unless they send me a 15-day notice letter,” the Buffalo Democrat said. “They have to vote whether or not there’ll be a notification letter sent out or an investigation started.”

Now, almost two months later, Panepinto will not reveal whether he has received notification from JCOPE, the panel that investigates charges of ethics violations.

“He is not able to comment on it,” said spokeswoman Meghan Rossman.

The Buffalo News reported March 16 that JCOPE started an initial inquiry about undisclosed complaints surrounding Panepinto’s office. The senator said at the time he was unaware of any probe, just one day after he announced he would not run for a second term in Albany.

Asked at the time if he was connected to any sexual harassment complaints, Panepinto said: “I can’t comment on that, either. It’s a personnel matter. It’s in the hands of the appropriate folks. I’ve cooperated.”

JCOPE, as a matter of policy, does not comment on its investigations.

Panepinto confirmed then that four staffers had left his Senate payroll since the end of December, including Daniel Corum, a former employee of the New York City teachers union who worked on the senator’s 2014 campaign before joining his staff in 2015.

Buffalo Public Schools officials who asked not to be identified said in March they were also looking into social media reports of underage drinking at the senator’s home.

The sources said they relayed the information to acting Erie County District Attorney Michael J. Flaherty Jr., who told The News in March his office would act “if and when credible facts are brought to our attention.”

Law enforcement sources have since indicated they found no evidence of illegalities in connection with the complaints, and would not pursue further action.