Former Niagara Falls commissioner pleads guilty to corruption

Jan 22, 2013

A former Niagara Falls city official has pleaded guilty to a federal corruption charge.

Former Building Commissioner Guy Bax admitted to accepting gratuities from a local contractor in exchange for personal gifts and services while serving as Acting Commissioner between 2007 and 2009. 

Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's Office say Bax routintely recommended contractors John and David Gross to individuals seeking city permits and approvals.  They say Bax created a perception that the applicants would have an easier time obtaining their permits if they used Gross Contracting. 

In exchange for steering business to the contractor, Bax received free home repairs and maintenance services at his home, including a bathroom remodeling and snow plowing.  He also received free trips and golf outings. 

John Gross was sentenced to 33 months in prison last January for mail fraud and filing a false tax return.  Bax faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 at sentencing in May.

"As we have said in the past, this Office intends to root out public corruption wherever it occurs," said U.S. Attorney Hochul. "Every person or business is entitled to a level playing field when it comes to dealings with Government officials.  Public employees, for their part, may not illegally or personally benefit from their position.  While instances of public corruption are fortunately rare in Western New York, such will be treated firmly and decisively when they come to our attention."