BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The FBI has filed a criminal complaint against Steven Pigeon, accusing the political operative of illegally soliciting a campaign contribution from a foreign national, and conspiring to illegally solicit that political donation.
Federal prosecutors say the case revolves around Pigeon’s role as an intermediary for an executive of a Montreal-based online gaming company trying to get Internet gaming legalized in New York by making a big donation to a high ranking state politician.
The politician was described only as “Public Official A” in the criminal complaint, announced Monday afternoon by acting U.S. Attorney James Kennedy.
The Buffalo News is reporting that public official was Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose re-election campaign initially rejected the $25,000 donation twice, but Kennedy said the third time was a charm.
“A client who had an online gambling company, that was pushing for the legalization of gambling on the Internet–allowed them to intervene in the United States election by permitting them to make a significant contribution to a candidate for state office that they were otherwise prohibited from making.”
Kennedy and FBI Special Agent in Charge Adam Cohen said the genesis of the latest charges against Pigeon stemmed from raids conducted by State Police and the FBI at Pigeon’s home and others two years ago.
Cohen said much of the evidence stems from emails collected in those raids, “The FBI believes firmly that individuals should not have the ability to illegally or unduly influence elections here in the United States.”
Pigeon also faces two separate criminal cases in State Supreme Court, where he is accused of bribery and extortion, and violations of state election laws.
The former Erie County Democratic Party chairman did not enter a plea, Monday, and is due back in federal court next week. If convicted of the federal charges Pigeon could face up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Early Monday evening, News 4 received the following statement from Basil A. Smikle, Jr., Executive Director for the New York State Democratic Party, regarding the charges against Steve Pigeon:
“As is made clear in public record, the campaign rejected donations we believed to be out of compliance with campaign finance laws. We are assisting in this inquiry in any way that we can.”