BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — For the second time this year, Steve Pigeon told a judge he’s not guilty setting up a fake political committee in order to get around campaign finance rules.
But the state attorney general — and now an Erie County grand jury — said the former chairman of the Erie County Democratic Committee used his committee to dump tens of thousands of dollars into the elections of two local politicians.
In addition to Pigeon, one of his political operatives, David Pfaff, was arraigned Thursday afternoon. Both pleaded not guilty before a visiting judge.
The grand jury handed up the indictment against Pigeon, Pfaff and Kristy Mazurek, on Dec. 1.
Each is charged with two counts of election law violations, which are low-level felonies.
The state Attorney General’s Office said in 2013, Pigeon, Mazurek and Pfaff created the Western New York Progressive Caucus, which allowed them to contribute tens of thousands of dollars for a candidate for county legislature and one candidate for town supervisor.
Pigeon and Pfaff said little in court Thursday other than “not guilty,” when asked by the judge about their plea.
The election law violations are class E felonies, and are the same charges that were presented to the court in April. As a result, the $10,000 bond that was set earlier this year was continued.
Kristy Mazurek was expected to be arraigned Thursday on the same charges, but due to a medical issue, her hearing was pushed back.
The election law violations are different from the eight federal charges that Pigeon faces, over allegations that he bribed a state supreme court judge. Pigeon appeared before a federal judge in October on those charges. The federal government said in its indictment that Pigeon and State Supreme Court Judge John Michalek exchanged perks and tens of thousands of dollars in a series of quid pro quo deals. The government laid out its case in a group of emails between the two men.
Pigeon faces the same bribery charges at the state level. Earlier this year, Pigeon’s attorney, Paul Cambria, successfully argued against the use of the emails, and got them thrown out of state court, forcing an appeal by the Attorney General’s Office.