Lackawanna councilman resigns after admitting residency lie

Nov 1, 2018

Lackawanna councilman William Leonard resigned late Wednesday night after a investigation revealed he had been lying about his place of residence.

Prosecutors say Leonard was living in West Seneca and used a rental property in Lackawanna that he owned to meet his residency requirement. He was charged with one misdemeanor count of official misconduct, a charge he pleaded guilty to Thursday morning.

William Leonard (left) appears in Erie County Court Thursday.
Credit Ronald Peralta / WBFO News

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn says when he got word of the wrongdoing, he took immediate action.

“He has a business of some sort in Lackawanna and he’s got a rental property in Lackawanna. So he portrayed himself as living in that rental property in Lackawanna," Flynn said. "There was a young man who was actually living in that unit in Lackawanna and when we interviewed him, he basically said that ‘No, [Leonard] never stays here.’"

At the hearing, Erie County Court Judge James Bargnesi had harsh words for the former councilman.

“I don’t know if its greed or stupidity or shortsightedness or what it is that gives everyone a dimmed view of people who run for public office and then use it for their own benefit for whatever reason. It's unclear why you did this but it’s completely unnecessary and its stupidity from an adult, a professional adult, like yourself," Bargnesi said.

The former councilman faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison. He will be sentenced Jan. 16.