Kathy Hochul cashed in as U.S. Attorney’s actions shock judges, lawyers and defendants
By: Mike Madigan
Fourteen payments totaling over $17,000 flowed into newly elected Congresswoman Kathy Hochul’s campaign from the lawyers of the defendants in the public corruption case against former Niagara Falls Mayor Vince Anello, as well as from the Union (IBEW) involved in the case. These payments were made in close proximity to actions taken by her husband, U.S. Attorney William Hochul Jr., and the U.S. Attorney’s office, in a clear case of conflict of interest and breach of ethics.
Prosecutors contended that Vincent Anello received $40,000 from Joe Anderson (Smokin’ Joe of the Seneca Nation) and attorney Paul Grenga in exchange for no bid contracts and other business involving the Mayor’s office following his election, that deprived “the city of the intangible right of the honest services of a public official.” Additionally, it was found that Anello was obtaining funds from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) without reporting these funds.
The Federal judge involved in the case, Judge William Skretny, indicated that this is a serious crime, saying “It’s a class C felony.” If found guilty, the individuals involved faced up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Skretny said “advisory sentencing guidelines called for a prison term of at least 30 months” as per WGRZ Channel 2 News.
The following is the assessment from the Judge, an unnamed lead FBI investigator on the case and the three primary defense attorneys involved in this case. It describes the extremely atypical nature of the actions of the U.S. Attorney’s office in this case, as reported by WGRZ Channel 2 News, The Buffalo News, Niagara Gazette, the Niagara Falls Reporter and Artvoice (linked below):
- Joe Daniels – Anello’s lawyer said “It’s extremely rare for [the government] to dismiss [public corruption] charges,” This was stated after all of Vincent Anello’s charges of public corruption had been dropped.
- Judge Skretny – “This is probably the largest request for a [reduction in federal sentencing guidelines] I’ve ever seen in my time on the bench. This is a serious crime. It’s a class C felony.” Anderson faced up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Skretny said “advisory sentencing guidelines called for a prison term of at least 30 months.” Anderson received no jail time and only a $50,000 fine.
- Anderson’s Lawyer, Terrence Connors said “Any claim that Anderson — as a wealthy businessman who has been a major donor to political candidates — got off easy is unfair and inaccurate.” In contrast, it should be noted that following an inquiry regarding questionable donations to her campaign by Buffalo News reporter Jerry Zremski in early May, Kathy Hochul returned one of the Anderson lawyer campaign contributions.
- Paul Grenga’s attorney Rodney Parsonius said “Grenga received the deal of a lifetime”. Grenga was listed as a co-conspirator and was not charged for what Terrence Connors stated was a very serious crime. U.S. Attorney William Hochul declined to comment on “the specifics” of why Grenga was not charged as per the Niagara Gazette.
- One of the lead FBI agents in the Anello probe resigned from the Task Force in disgust, requesting and receiving a new work assignment in the Buffalo area. “[The agent] felt that he turned up some important information, but the U.S. Attorney’s office wasn’t moving on it,” said one source close to the case. “[The agent] felt like this and other cases involving politicians were dead in the water.”
To summarize: Former Mayor Vincent Anello’s corruption case is yet another case where individuals and organizations with business before U.S. Attorney William Hochul Jr.’s office have been found to be paying money into his wife Kathy Hochul’s campaign in close proximity to actions taken by the U.S. Attorney. This is a clear conflict of interest and serious breach of ethics on the part of Congresswoman Kathy Hochul and U.S. Attorney William Hochul Jr.
In this case the three primary defense lawyers (Connors, Parsonius and Daniels) and the one Union (IBEW) involved in this corruption, all made payments to Kathy Hochul’s campaign during and immediately following the closure of this corruption case.
The outcome of this case was that all of the corruption charges were dropped against former Mayor Anello (who admitted receiving $40,000 from Grenga and Anderson), Anderson received no jail time and a $50,000 fine for bribing Anello, and no legal action was taken against Grenga who admitted to initiating and managing the bribe.
As I have previously reported, the above noted ethical breaches and conflicts of interest associated with money flowing into Kathy Hochul’s campaign from individuals with business before U.S. Attorney Hochul’s office, is part of a frequently repeated pattern.
There are several on-going cases in which U.S. Attorney Hochul must recuse himself due to the appearance of a conflict of interest and the resulting impact on the integrity of the U.S. Justice system.
One of the more serious cases involves Anthony Lamarand who is accused of being a major drug dealer and who the U.S. Attorney’s office characterized as being a violent enforcer involved in beatings, attempted kidnappings and firebombings.
Lamarand is due to be sentenced in Federal Court prior to the end of this year. His attorney Dennis Gaughan made three payments to Kathy Hochul within hours each time of major actions before U.S. Attorney Hochul. These payments were greater than six months apart, and coincided directly with major actions associated with the Lamarand case by the U.S. Attorney’s office which statistically strongly suggests the two activities are directly related.
The last payment was $5000 which was made on the same day that Gaughan petitioned to delay Lamarand’s sentencing on March 04-2011. This delay was granted. The U.S. Attorney must recuse himself and his office from this case and assign an uncompromised U.S. Attorney to this case that does not have the appearance of a conflict of interest. Kathy Hochul must return all funds associated with this case as well which totals over $14,000 consisting of nine payments.
A second set of cases that are very troubling are the case of Joseph Licata, who has been indicted for robbing an M&T bank, and Michael C, Makolinski who was indicted for Robbing the Evans Bank.
On the same day as Licata’s indictment by U.S. Attorney Hochul his wife received $1000 and three days later $2500 from top M&T executives. A similar pattern was seen in the Makolinski case where Evans bank executives contributed $1500 in close proximity to his indictment. This could be perceived as an effort to secure maximum sentences without any plea deals.
The complainants donating money to the U.S. Attorney’s wife is a serious conflict of interest that can’t be tolerated and has very serious implications if permitted to stand. If these alleged criminals receive excessive sentences inordinately impacting their lives with the shadow of these payments hanging over them, the credibility of the U.S. justice system will be compromised
Congresswoman Hochul and U.S. Attorney Hochul must conduct a full review of all funds received and identify and return all that have the appearance of a conflict of interest. U.S. Attorney Hochul must identify cases where the appearance of a conflict of interest resides as a result of these payments and he must recuse himself from any case that has the appearance of a conflict.