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Probe over questionable Maziarz campaign spending ends with no charges filed

Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn will not file criminal charges against members of former State Sen. George D. Maziarz’s office or campaign staff over the questionable spending of hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds.

Earlier this year, Maziarz accused his chief of staff, campaign treasurer and a few lower level staff members of stealing more than $350,000 in campaign funds, after he had pleaded guilty to an unrelated misdemeanor election law violation.

“We have done a thorough investigation. I have no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing that would be able to give me a conviction of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal court of law,” Flynn said.

The DA said he still has concerns over how the campaign funds were spent.

“After reviewing all the materials, there is definitely smoke, and when there is smoke there is usually fire. However, in this case, I do not have enough evidence to prove the fire in court,” he said.

Lawyers for Maziarz's former chief of staff Alisa Colatarci-Reimann and former treasurer Laureen M. Jacobs maintained all along that their clients did nothing wrong in their handling of campaign funds and fully cooperated with state and federal authorities.

Attorney Gabriel M. Nugent, who is representing Colatarci-Reimann, had said Maziarz "approved every single campaign expenditure ...”

Of Flynn's decision, Nugent said, “We’re glad that the DA saw what we saw all along. The allegations against Alisa Colatarci were contrived and really political revenge.”

Jacobs, the volunteer campaign treasurer, is represented by Buffalo attorneys Terrence M. Connors and Nicholas A. Romano.

"We always had full confidence that Laureen would be exonerated," Connors said. "She was a loyal and honest volunteer for the campaign."

Maziarz, Niagara County's most powerful Republican for years, decided not to seek re-election in 2014.

"I'm disappointed. I think there is a lot of smoke and I will be pursuing other avenues," Maziarz said Thursday, declining to address what other actions he may take.

Flynn’s decision not to prosecute comes after previous investigations by the State Attorney General's Office, the FBI and the Southern District of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York City also resulted in no charges. Maziarz’s campaign records were turned over to former Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo disbanded the state Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption in 2014.

Attorney Joseph M. LaTona, who represents Maziarz, had hired forensic auditors to trace how the campaign funds were spent. The audit described more than $650,000 in checks and debit card purchases as "questionable."

Expenditures included money spent on school activities and sports teams, purchases at retail outlets, payment of cable television bills and gift cards from 2007 through early 2014.

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