October 10, 2018
FROM THE U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE:
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that New York State Assemblyman Joseph A. Errigo, 79, of Conesus, NY, was charged by criminal complaint with bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, and honest services wire fraud. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John J. Field, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, after receiving information regarding an unusually close relationship between a member of the New York State Assembly (Member A), a member other than Errigo, and a lobbyist, the FBI began investigating that relationship, to include a specific bribery scheme. The purpose of the proposed bribe was to induce Member A to introduce certain legislation.
The legislation at issue involved reducing the extent of local control over a pending development project in the Rochester area, and giving the state the ability to review the development project with the New York State Department of Transportation. The scheme initially included the person offering to pay the bribe (bribe payor), a registered New York State lobbyist (lobbyist), and Member A.
On September 4, 2017, the bribe payor and lobbyist met to discuss paying Member A money in exchange for legislation aimed at altering the proposed development project. During the conversation, the lobbyist suggested utilizing Errigo to introduce the legislation, so that the bill could not be traced to Member A. Member A, however, would assist in getting the legislation through a specific committee, according to the lobbyist.
On September 8, 2017, the bribe payor and lobbyist met once again. The bribe payor stated that he would have cash in the next week or so to give to the lobbyist and Member A. The lobbyist confirmed that he would accept the money and that the bill would be introduced within a month.
On September 26, 2017, the bribe payor met the lobbyist at a public location and handed the lobbyist two envelopes, each containing $1,500. The lobbyist stated he would use the money to “grease the skids with Errigo.”
From October to December 2017, the bribe payor and lobbyist exchanged numerous text messages about arranging a meeting to pay Errigo to introduce the proposed legislation
The lobbyist scheduled a meeting between the bribe payor and Errigo on February 9, 2018, at the Assemblyman’s office in Pittsford, NY. At some point during the meeting, Errigo and the bribe payor exited the office together and walked to Errigo’s car, where the bribe payor placed an envelope on the front passenger seat. Subsequently, the lobbyist also arrived at Errigo’s office. The FBI has determined that the envelope contained $1,500 in cash. Also on February 9, 2018, the bribe payor emailed the lobbyist specific language for the proposed legislation that Errigo was going to introduce. On March 16, 2018, the bribe payor met with Errigo and provided him another payment of $2,000.
On March 27, 2018, Errigo introduced a bill consisting of the proposed legislation. Also on March 27, 2018, the bribe payor met with the lobbyist and paid him for his help in getting the legislation introduced. The FBI determined that the payment consisted of $2,000 in cash.
On April 13, 2018, the bribe payor met with Errigo and paid him $2,000 in cash for obtaining a bill number for the proposed legislation.
The bribe payor paid a total of at least $10,500 to Errigo and the lobbyist to assign a bill number to a proposed bill, and thereby introduce legislation and begin the process of obtaining passage of a State law. Errigo accepted a total of $5,500.
The defendant made an initial appearance this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marian W. Payson.
The complaint is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Gary Loeffert.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.