For the record – for the judicial record – Justice Russell P. Buscaglia’s secretary will not be attending Rus’ Roast, a fundraiser for John “Rus” Thompson, the Tea Party activist accused of voter fraud.
Cheryl Martin was among those who received an email invitation from Carl Paladino to the dinner that will raise money for Thompson’s legal fees. Thompson faces a felony charge of voting illegally, specifically one count of filing a false instrument and three counts of voting more than once using that instrument (his voter registration). His case is being heard by Martin’s boss, Justice Buscaglia.
Last week in State Supreme Court, Thompson opted not to accept a plea offer to admit to one felony count of false registration for voting in Grand Island, his longtime home, after he moved to Niagara Falls. The case is in the motions phase and, in the absence of an offer to plea to a misdemeanor, appears headed to trial.
Proceeds from the $30-a-ticket roast will go toward Thompson’s defense. He is represented by Thomas Eoannou.
More than 40,000 people have checked out the news about Rus’ Roast on Facebook, and Martin is only one of many people on Paladino’s extensive email list. Some employees in the District Attorney’s Office also reported receiving the invitation from Paladino, a developer, Buffalo school board member and former gubernatorial candidate.
The colorful message would be hard to overlook. The invite is designed as a Revolutionary War-era poster, showing Thompson in a tricorn hat and ruffled neckcloth, with the Colonial text proclaiming that “On Thursday, the Eighth of September, in the Year of Our Lord 2016, All Good Men will gather at the Lake Erie Italian club ... etc.”
According to the note, radio host David Bellavia will be master of ceremonies, and there will be jabs from Paladino, Assemblyman David DiPietro (R, C-East Aurora) and “The Financial Guys,” Glenn Wiggle and Mike Lomas.
After Paladino’s email invitation went out, Buscaglia addressed its receipt in court so it wouldn’t become an issue later.
Prosecutor Paul E. Bonanno and Eoannou quickly went on record agreeing that no harm was intended or done.
Off the record, Eoannou joked about how many tickets everyone could buy.
Meanwhile, the case moves forward, with jury selection for Thompson’s trial scheduled for Jan. 19.