BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Search warrants from both federal and state officials signed Thursday authorized raids on homes belonging to three political operatives in western New York.
Law enforcement sources say police searched three residences Thursday morning and afternoon in western New York. The three targeted were Steve Pigeon, a political operative for New York democrats, Steve Casey, Byron Brown’s former Deputy Mayor, and Chris Grant, a top political aid for Congressman Chris Collins.
The raids, which took place at Admirals Walk in Buffalo, and a residence in East Aurora and Akron, are likely probes into alleged political corruption, according to prior reports.
One of the largest questions which remains unanswered is the connection between each of the men whose houses were raided. Learn more about each man below.
Steve Casey, the former Deputy Mayor of Buffalo, is regarded as having been one of the most powerful men in the city for a time. While in power he made enemies.
“There’s one word that describes Steve Casey — malice,” Michael LoCurto, a Buffalo Common Council member, said.
But he had his allies, too.
“I saw a guy who really worked day and night for the City of Buffalo,” Darius Pridgen, Common Council president, said.
Phone calls to Casey’s phone have not yet been returned. Casey left Buffalo politics to work with Scott Congel, a prominent local developer on a project.
At Admirals Walk, Steve Pigeon’s attorney said the raids were completely unexpected. Pigeon is a political mogul in New York State and former Erie County Democratic Party Chairman. He’s a self-proclaimed democratic strategist, and has been routinely involved with New York’s top democrats. Although he’s frequently behind the scenes, he’s not always quiet.
His attorney Kevin Burke oversaw the removal process at Pigeon’s condominium.
“We want to make sure we have an inventory of whatever they take or copy, make sure they comply with whatever instrument they use to go through his condo and make sure that our client’s rights are protected,” he said.
Pigeon has been involved with many prominent politicians, and acted as a fundraiser and political booster. He helped Tom Golisano run for governor of New York State and has been a fierce political ally for Governor Andrew Cuomo. One lawyer familiar with Pigeon says the investigation may be centering around political donations, which aren’t outright illegal.
“It’s got to be a formal coordination, real provable meat,” Peter Reese said. “If they sat down and wrote out a contract and filed it at the County Clerk’s Office, that’s one thing, but that sort of thing doesn’t happen.”
The man who is regarded as Rep. Collins’ top aide, Grant is a politically quiet and behind the scenes proponent for the republican congressman. Collins had little to say, but supported his staff member following the raid on his home.
“Chris Grant will continue to voluntarily participate in the investigation, and I expect a quick resolution to this inquiry,” Collins said.
As of now, the raids and investigations have not been connected to Mayor Brown’s office, nor Rep. Collins’ office.