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Niagara County Legislature orders background checks on candidates for vacancies

All applicants for a vacancy in the Niagara County Legislature now must go through a criminal and financial background check.

The Legislature on Tuesday unanimously passed the Democratic minority's resolution requiring the background checks.

Legislator Jesse P. Gooch, R-Wheatfield, was appointed in January despite a 10-year history of state and federal tax liens against his business, Painters Plus.

Minority Leader Dennis F. Virtuoso charged that Gooch "didn't answer truthfully" when the search committee asked him if there was anything in his background that would "damage the reputation of Niagara County."

Gooch blamed "clerical issues by our payroll company and by New York State."

"My business is current on all its taxes," Gooch said. However, the County Clerk's Office does not list all the liens as paid.

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