BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The promise of jobs, rounds of golf, clothes, a few Sabres games, the exchange of tens of thousands of dollars — that’s among the currency of power, according to the federal government, between former State Supreme Court Judge John Michalek and democratic political operative Steve Pigeon.
And Friday, the government spelled out its entire case in dozens of emails between the two.
The indictment accusing Pigeon on eight federal charges was unsealed on Friday morning, and is very similar to charges he already faces at the state level.
“No one likes to be charged with crimes, and obviously, if you’re already facing these charges at the state side, you scratch your head as to why we’re going to duplicate those charges on the federal side,” said Pigeon’s defense attorney Paul Cambria. “They appear to be basically the same charges, I think this is an effort to, if you will have an end run around what we’ve accomplished in the state. As you know, certain things there were suppressed by the trial judge, and I think this is an attempt to circumvent that.”
Those certain things were emails between Pigeon and former Michalek obtained from computers during a raid of Pigeon’s home. Cambria successfully got the emails thrown out of state court, forcing an appeal by the state.
State spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick said late Friday the state intends “to vigorously pursue our prosecution and ultimately prevail.”
He’ll likely try the same in federal court. But the government may have already won the battle, as it included the emails in the public indictment
Pigeon is the former chairman of the Erie County Democratic Party. He was accused of election fraud.
Previously, Pigeon and two others pleaded not guilty to charges accusing them of setting up a political action committee to hide that they were breaking campaign finance laws.
Investigators said they failed to report tens of thousands of dollars to the New York State Board of Elections.
Pigeon pleaded not guilty Friday to one federal count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bribery, as well as three counts each of wire fraud and violations of the travel act, or racketeering. He was released on his own recognizance.
Pigeon is also tied to a case against a former State Supreme Court Justice, who resigned and pleaded ‘not guilty’ to receiving a bribe.
The former judge admitted he got Pigeon’s help to get his relative a job with the 2012 campaign to reelect former President Barack Obama.
On Friday, Pigeon was indicted on eight charges, including wire fraud, conspiracy and bribery. Following this, he was released on his own recognizance.
Initally, Pigeon faced a federal charge of helping to wire $25,000 from a foreign source to the 2014 reelection campaign of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. However, U.S. attorneys asked the judge to dismiss that charge, but they’re leaving open the possibility of revisiting it in the future.
MORE | See the indictment here.