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Lackawanna mayor loses bid to knock Albanna off ballot

Beleaguered Lackawanna City Council candidate Mohamed Albanna this week survived another attempt to boot him off the ballot this November.

The lawsuit filed by Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski was rejected Monday by Supreme Court Justice James H. Dillon, who ruled that the petition to commence the legal action was not filed with the Erie County Clerk's office within the required time limit.

Szymanski's lawsuit challenged the decision by Board of Elections Commissioners Ralph M. Mohr and Jeremy Zellner that allowed Albanna, a convicted felon, to remain on the ballot.

In 2006,  Albanna was sentenced to five years in federal prison after he was convicted of illegally sending $5.5 million dollars to Yemen, his native country. The Justice Department prosecuted Albanna as part of a wave of post-9/11 cases, although prosecutors acknowledged they had no evidence that the Albanna funds were used to finance terrorist activities.

In filing the lawsuit, Szymanski pointed to the Lackawanna City Code, which says a person shall be ineligible to assume or continue in a public office if they were convicted of "a crime involving moral turpitude.”

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Szymanski plans to use city funds to pay the outside counsel who was hired to file the suit.

Albanna, the Democratic Party candidate, already has defeated petition challenges from his opponent, John Ingram – the Conservative Party candidate – and from Daniel Koziol, a Conservative Party member.

Now Albanna wondered what is next.

"The lawsuit has been thrown out and I'm on the ballot in November," said Albanna. "We'll see what the city does next. Hopefully the mayor will be a good steward of city funds."

Szymanski said he will continue in his effort to enforce the city code with respect to Albanna.

"This is not over," Szymanski said.

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