Yesterday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that they are levying an eight-count indictment against former Erie County Democratic Party chairman G. Steve Pigeon for bribing a New York Supreme Court Justice. According to their press release, the former chairman offered gifts to the judge in exchange for political favors.
The press release states that offering bribes to a judge represents a corruption of the justice system. Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco said,
“The independence of the judiciary is paramount to civilized society. Our prosecutors and law enforcement partners will pursue any and all attempts to corrupt our fundamental institutions, including the judiciary.”
The indictment alleges that Pigeon offered gifts and favors to Judge John A. Michalek in exchange for “official action.” The former chairman promised to provide employment with former President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign to a member of the judge’s family. He also offered to assist the person with obtaining employment at the State Department.
According to the DOJ, Pigeon also agreed to support Michalek in his bid to be appointed to the appellate division of the New York State Supreme Court. The quid pro quo was that Michalek would give rulings that would benefit Pigeon.
One of the charges being filed against Pigeon is conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services wire fraud. Three counts are for honest services wire fraud. One count is federal programs bribery, and there are also three counts of violation of the Travel Act. Pigeon was arraigned on Friday.
According to the Department of Justice, there is ample evidence suggesting that Pigeon intentionally offered favors to Judge Michalek in exchange for favorable rulings. “The detailed facts set forth in the indictment provide evidence not only of the charges contained therein, but of the tremendous investigation conducted by agents from the Buffalo Division of the FBI together with their partners at the New York State Attorney General’s Office and the New York State Police,” Acting U.S. Attorney Kennedy said. “The indictment speaks for itself.”
While the press release does state that Pigeon will be presumed innocent until he is proven guilty, it appears the DOJ has a compelling case. If the former chairman is convicted, it will be yet another scandal that tarnishes the Democratic party’s image. Lately, there have been several cases of Democratic politicians being caught engaging in unethical and illegal behavior.
DOJ announced that they are levying an eight-count indictment against former Erie County Democratic Party chairman G. Steve Pigeon for bribing a New York Supreme Court Justice. Do you think power corrupts?
Recently, New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez was indicted for charges similar to the ones facing Pigeon. The senator used his political influence to live a life of luxury in exchange for providing political favors for his friend, Salomon Melgen — a wealthy doctor. The doctor treated the lawmaker to lavish trips, fancy hotels, and other amenities. The senator used his office to help members of Melgen’s family gain employment and travel visas.
Also, former New Orleans mayoral candidate Frank Scurlock made headlines when he was allegedly caught masturbating in a car while using Uber. His trial will be starting shortly.
Unfortunately, corruption is a reality on both sides of the aisles. However, recently, it has been mostly members of the Democratic party who have engaged in questionable behavior. Some individuals who become elected officials give in to the temptation to use their power for their own benefit. Hopefully, the Department of Justice will continue to punish politicians who abuse their position as elected officials in the government.