BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – An Alden man and his son both pleaded guilty to conspiring to pay bribes to City of Buffalo police officers.
James Mazzariello, Jr., 62, and Adam Mazzariello, 37, face a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both.
James Mazzariello Jr. also pleaded guilty to making and subscribing a false tax return.
According to assistant U.S. Attorneys Russell T. Ippolito, Jr., and Maura K. O’Donnell, who are handling the prosecution, James Mazzariello Jr. owned and operated Jim Mazz Auto, Inc. and National Towing, Inc., companies involved in all aspects of the automobile towing and repair business. Adam Mazzariello supervised the towing aspect of his father’s business.
Between 2009 and May 2012, Jim Mazz Auto tow truck operators, working at the direction of the defendants, made bribe payments to certain City of Buffalo police officers for their help in enabling the drivers to tow motor vehicles damaged in City of Buffalo accidents. The operators made the bribes using their own personal funds and were reimbursed by the defendants.
The investigation looked into 19 different bribe payments made by Jim Mazz Auto tow truck drivers to City of Buffalo police officers- approximately $500 in payments- while the gross revenue Jim Mazz made by making bribe payments was $43,022.74. The gross revenue included payments made to Jim Mazz Auto for towing and mechanical and collision repair work.
The attorneys also state that James Mazzariello, Jr. filed false corporate and individual tax returns for tax years 2009 and 2010, significantly underreporting the total amount of gross revenue for his business to pay less in federal taxes. The total tax loss for both years was $125,311.
The investigation was made by the FBI, the IRS’s Criminal Investigation Division, NYS DMV’s Division of Field Investigation, NYS Department of Taxation and Finance Criminal Investigations Division, NYS Department of Financial Services Criminal Investigations Unit, and the Buffalo Police Department.
Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr., said that the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, Buffalo Police, and New York State are working together to identify and bring to justice any police officer who may have accepted illegal bribes.
“Since sunlight is the best disinfectant, we expect that this case will clean up the way towing services are provided in the city of Buffalo,” Kennedy said.