Defense attorney Steven Cohen argued at a public hearing Friday that a recording of Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority resident commissioner Joe Mascia using the "n-word" to describe several local officials was taken out of context. Cohen also said Mascia was goaded into using it.
Speaking to reporters afterwards, he said the week-long hearing is being held because Mascia wants to set the record straight for anyone who wants to listen.
"He wants people to know that he has always fought for the residents of the BMHA, who are largely minorities, African-American, Muslim, Hispanic. He wants them to know that he's been there for them and he wants them to know what he's done for them. And certainly he's going to run for commissioner again," Cohen said.
After the tape surfaced several months ago, Mascia apologized and insisted that he is not a racist. After refusing the Housing Authority Board's call to resign, he was suspended by Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, who was among those Mascia described with a racial slur.