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Former Niagara County GOP chairman fined $1,000 for campaign finance violation

An Albany City Court judge on Friday ordered former Niagara County Republican Chairman Henry F. Wojtaszek to pay a $1,000 fine for violating a state campaign finance law in 2012.

Wojtaszek pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge last year as part of a deal with prosecutors working on the case against former State Sen. George Maziarz.

Maziarz, a Niagara County Republican, recently pleaded guilty to his own campaign finance charge and also paid a $1,000 fine.

Wojtaszek waived his an opportunity to address the court before sentencing.

“Mr. Wojtaszek, you also have the right to be heard in sentencing, sir. Anything you want to bring to my attention, any reason we shouldn’t go forward with sentencing this morning?” Albany City Court Judge Gary F. Stiglmeier asked.

“No, thank you, judge,” Wojtaszek replied.

Former Niagara County Republican Party Chairman Henry F. Wojtaszek.

Wojtaszek and his attorney, Brian Devane, also declined to make any comments to The News after his sentencing.

Wojtaszek was accused of helping mask campaign payments to a former Maziarz aide to avoid public scrutiny in 2012 and 2013. Wojtaszek was involved with the former senator’s campaign at the time. The aide, Glenn S. Aronow, worked for Maziarz in the State Senate until 2011, when he resigned over allegations of sexual harassment.

After his resignation, Aronow was paid $95,000 for work on Maziarz’s re-election campaign in 2012 and 2013 through a third party. The campaign and the Niagara County Republican Committee paid a public relations firm during that time, which in turn made payments to Aronow to avoid public scrutiny. The campaign failed to disclose Aronow as the recipient of those payments on campaign filings with the state Board of Elections.

That led to five felony campaign finance charges against Maziarz from state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s office last year. Maziarz eventually pleaded guilty to a lesser misdemeanor count earlier this year.

Wojtaszek was expected to testify for Schneiderman’s office in the Maziarz trial before the former senator took the deal.

Prosecutors initially planned recommending $3,000 fine for Wojtaszek's role in the scheme but agreed to the lower amount after Marziarz was sentenced.

“The defendant who was the target in this case, George Maziarz, plead to a penal law charge where the penalty was $1,000,” Assistant Attorney General Christopher Baynes said in court. “I believe in the interest of equity we should harmonize those two sentences and the defendant here should only have to pay $1,000 as well.”

Maziarz announced his retirement from the chamber in 2014, which caught Albany lawmakers by surprise because he was considered one of the more powerful members of the State Senate. He was reportedly under investigation by a now-defunct state corruption panel but at the time he denied any wrongdoing.

Wojtaszek’s history with Aronow extends beyond work for the Maziarz campaign. Western Regional Off-Track Betting, where Wojtaszek is president, paid Aronow’s Regency Communications firm $73,000 in consulting contracts from 2014 to 2017.

In Maziarz legal documents, a tale of political intrigue and betrayal among friends

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