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Political activist goes to court in voting probe

For years, Grand Island’s Rus Thompson has railed against New York’s political system in his highly visible role of tea party activist.

Now, Thompson finds himself in the middle of the justice system following a Wednesday appearance in court and another slated for later this week in connection with possible voter fraud in the September primary election for supervisor and Town Board.

Thompson said that he would not address specifics on advice of counsel but acknowledged that his next appearance Friday in State Supreme Court stems from an affidavit vote he cast after, he said, “I was mysteriously removed from the voter rolls.”

“I’ve got a whole bunch to say, but I can’t right now,” he said.

Thompson, 60, has been active in the Independence Party for many years and served as a top aide to 2010 Republican gubernatorial nominee Carl P. Paladino. In recent weeks, he has been vocal about his contention that new Supervisor Nathan D. McMurray encountered a computer with hundreds of deleted files on his first day in office in January.

He told The Buffalo News several weeks ago that he would seek an investigation into the situation, and The News reported last week that McMurray planned to consult with the Erie County District Attorney’s Office to determine whether a crime was committed when the files were deleted from a town server at the end of former Supervisor Mary S. Cooke’s term.

Thompson told The News several days ago that he had asked the District Attorney’s Office and the state Attorney General’s Office to investigate the deleted files but that he had yet to hear back.

“To me, it’s a crime,” he said then.

This week, Thompson told Time Warner Cable News that experts determined that more than 1,700 files were deleted at once in the final days of 2015 and that he was contemplating pressing charges.

McMurray said he had received numerous complaints from town residents over the deleted files.

“I’ll consult with the DA based on the huge amount of public blowback,” the supervisor said May 3, noting that it’s “only as a matter of due diligence.”

Thompson’s attorney, Thomas J. Eoannou, was unavailable for comment Wednesday. Sources indicate that Thompson is slated to appear before State Supreme Court Justice Christopher J. Burns on Friday.