Republican Assemblyman Joe Errigo is facing bribery and wire fraud charges after he allegedly accepted bribes in order to move a development project forward in the Rochester area.
Errigo appeared in federal court Wednesday and was released on his own recognizance. Errigo, who represents the 133rd Assembly District, allegedly accepted a bribe in exchange for introducing legislation that would reduce local control of a development project in the Rochester area. Errigo is accused of introducing the legislation to hide the identity of another Assembly member who was working with a lobbyist and a bribe payor to get the legislation passed. Officials have not identified the Assembly member, lobbyist, and bribe payor.
In all, the complaint says Errigo accepted $5,500 worth of payments. The 79-year-old Errigo faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Errigo made a short appearance in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Marian Payson and was released.
“The message today is that the legislative should not be up for sale to the highest bidder,” U.S. Attorney for Western NY James Kennedy said at a news conference explaining the charges. “By misusing his elected office to line his own pockets, Assemblyman Errigo, has, as alleged in the criminal complaint, undermined the integrity of our legal process and abused the public’s trust.”
The complaint says on September 4, 2017, the bribe payor and the lobbyist met to discuss paying the unknown Assembly member to introduce the legislation. During the discussion, the lobbyist suggested having Errigo introduce the legislation so the bill could not be traced back to the unknown Assembly member but would help get the legislation through a specific committee.
Four days later, the bribe payor and the lobbyist met again, with the lobbyist agreeing to accept the money and stating the bill would be introduced in a month.
On September 26, 2017, the bribe payor met the lobbyist at a public location and gave the lobbyist two envelopes, each with $1,500; the lobbyist stated he would use the money to “grease the skids with Errigo,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Between October and December 2017, the bribe payor and lobbyist allegedly exchanged text messages to arrange a meeting with Errigo to discuss introducing the proposed legislation.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said a meeting between Errigo, the lobbyist, and the bribe payor took place on February 9, 2018, at Errigo’s Pittsford office. During the meeting, Errigo and the bribe payor allegedly walked to Errigo’s car, where the bribe payor placed an envelope on the front passenger seat. The FBI has determined the envelope contained $1,500 in cash. Later that day, the bribe payor emailed the lobbyist specific language for the proposed legislation that Errigo was going to introduce.
The bribe payor and Errigo met again on March 16, 2018; this time the bribe payor allegedly paid Errigo $2,000.
The proposed legislation was introduced by Errigo in late March 2018. Also that day, the bribe payor allegedly met with the lobbyist and paid him for his help in getting the legislation introduced, which the FBI determined was $2,000.
On April 13, 2018, the bribe payor allegedly met with Errigo and paid him $2,000 in cash for obtaining a bill number for the proposed legislation. The bill did not come up for a vote before the full Assembly.
Errigo was elected to the 133rd Assembly District in 2016. He was chosen to run in place of Bill Nojay after he died by suicide before the November 2016 election. The 133rd Assembly District includes Livingston County and parts of Monroe and Steuben counties.
Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, (R-Canandaigua), issued this statement:
“The allegations against Assemblyman Joseph Errigo announced today are disturbing for everyone in state government and for the people of the 133rd Assembly District. We have just learned about the charges, and more facts will be presented as the legal process runs its course. If a crime has been committed, the guilty parties should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Any time these kinds of accusations are brought against a public official, it severely damages the public trust.”