Powerful Democratic operative Steve Pigeon pleads ‘not guilty’ to 9-count indictment


G. Steven Pigeon, right, does paperwork with attorney Justin Ginter, left, after he was arraigned on a grand jury indictment of nine charges, including bribery, in State Supreme Court, Thursday, June 30, 2016. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – One of western New York’s most powerful Democratic strategists has pleaded not guilty to a nine-count indictment against him.

The highest charges against Steve Pigeon are two counts of second-degree bribery, which could carry a sentence of up to 15 years in prison. He is also accused of grand larceny and six counts of rewarding official misconduct.

Pigeon and two other people had their homes raided over alleged violations related to campaign finances.

On Wednesday, Erie County Supreme Court Justice John Michalek pleaded guilty to felony counts of offering a false instrument and bribe receiving.

Prosecutors say Michalek sought the help of Pigeon to secure jobs for two of his relatives. Michalek admitted to this in court Wednesday.

Michalek also admitted to naming a Pigeon-recommended attorney to a case even though the attorney was not on a specific list and had no expertise.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called the relationship between Michalek and Pigeon a “”multi-year, illicit, corrupt scheme.”

Pigeon served as Erie County Democratic Chairman from 1996 to 2002 and also worked as an aide to Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown while Brown was a state senator.

Pigeon relinquished his passport in court Thursday. His bail was set at $10,000.

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