The special prosecutor investigating alleged bid-rigging in Niagara County government has issued subpoenas connected to charges leveled by former State Sen. George D. Maziarz against his one-time friend and protege Henry F. Wojtaszek.
The special prosecutor probe is now seeking responses from various departments of Niagara County government, said Calli Marianetti, a spokeswoman for Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley.
“As special prosecutor, the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office has submitted requests for further information regarding the investigation into Four Points Communications,” Marianetti said Wednesday.
Four Points Communications is a public relations firm at the heart of Maziarz’s accusations.
Maziarz, once a powerful force in Niagara County Republican politics and in the State Senate, called a surprise press conference in Lockport in February to extend his feud with Wojtaszek, the former Niagara County Republican chairman.
In March, Paula L. Feroleto, administrative justice of the State Supreme Court’s Eighth Judicial District, appointed Doorley to investigate Maziarz's claims after Niagara County District Attorney Caroline A. Wojtaszek recused herself because she is married to Henry Wojtaszek. Since then, Doorley’s investigators have looked into the claims that Henry Wojtaszek pressured county officials in 2014 to deliver a grant writing contract to Four Points. The firm was headed by Melinda Boesken, Wojtaszek’s onetime personal law secretary, at the time.
Maziarz said FBI interview documents from a criminal case brought against him by the State Attorney General’s Office revealed information about the contract. He alleged that Wojtaszek, at one time his trusted ally in the Niagara County GOP machine, steered the contract to Four Points and received some of the proceeds.
Wojtaszek, an attorney, has denied the allegations, pointing to a 2018 opinion by the State Bar Association’s Grievance Committee dismissing Maziarz’s request for disciplinary action in connection with the Four Points allegations.
Patrick J. Brown, Wojtaszek’s attorney, said Wednesday that his client has not been interviewed or subpoenaed in the case.
“My understanding is they are doing their due diligence, but my sense is that there’s nothing there,” he said of the subpoenas. “They’re running down leads.”
In February, Maziarz produced documentation of 2016 FBI interviews with Michael J. Norris, a former Niagara County Republican chairman who was elected to the Assembly later that year. Maziarz said Norris told FBI agents about the process of hiring a new grant writing firm for Niagara County that the former senator says was predestined for Four Points.
Maziarz also said a forensic audit he commissioned to review his allegations of thefts from his campaign accounts shows checks totaling $50,000 from the Four Points contract were deposited in a joint bank account maintained by Henry and Caroline Wojtaszek.
Henry Wojtaszek said he earned his compensation from Four Points for services rendered, according to a 2016 FBI report. Wojtaszek said he reviewed grant applications for Four Points, contacted state officials about the availability of grants and attended meetings at Four Points offices.
Maziarz said Wojtaszek instructed then-County Manager Jeff Glatz to assemble a request for proposals seeking a new county grant writer.
“Wojtaszek told Glatz they needed to get Four Points Communications in there,” the FBI report of the Norris interview reads. “Glatz set up a committee for the RFP and they chose Four Points Communications as the new vendor for grant writing. Norris attended a breakfast meeting with Glatz where it was discussed that it was important to get the grant writing contract over to Four Points Communications.”
Wojtaszek, now president of Western Regional Off-Track Betting in Batavia, at the time called the Maziarz charges “baseless,” and said Maziarz was a “disgraced former politician who is obsessed with trying to settle political scores with his enemies.”
Maziarz has also been the subject of legal action. He was indicted in 2017 on five felony counts connected to Republican campaigns in Niagara County, eventually pleading guilty in 2018 to a campaign finance misdemeanor. He paid a $1,000 fine.
He also failed in 2018 to seek prosecution of former aides he claimed stole from his campaign account. Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn, appointed to review Maziarz’s claims that more than $350,000 remained missing, determined last October that he could not prosecute any crime connected with missing funds.
“After reviewing all the materials, there is definitely smoke, and when there is smoke there is usually fire,” Flynn said then. “However, in this case, I do not have enough evidence to prove the fire in court.”