To date there have been five autonomous government investigations into the campaign bank account of former State Senator George Maziarz.
The five are:
- The Moreland Commission, 2014. Gov, Cuomo launched it. It was targeted at state legislators for possible campaign fund improprieties. Moreland noted Maziarz had the largest amount of unitemized spending of any state senator on his campaign’s Board of Elections filings (about $150,o00). The Moreland Commission was disbanded by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. No charges were filed.
- The US Attorney, Southern District of New York, headed by Preet Bharara subpoenaed Moreland records in 2014. A grand jury convened to investigate Maziarz’s campaign account. Witnesses were called. No charges were filed.
- New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s Public Integrity Bureau started investigating in 2014. The investigation, seemingly dormant for years, has been suddenly reactivated. A grand jury convened following Maziarz treasurer, Laureen Jacobs, in response to a civil suit, filing an amended report explaining unitemized expenditures, on Feb. 6, 2017. The State investigation may be targeting Maziarz for possible violation of elections law through possible use of campaign funds donated to him which he in turn may have donated without full disclosure to the campaigns of other GOP candidates.
- Niagara County DA.; 2015-2017. On an entirely different and arguably more serious track than the state, the county sought evidence that Maziarz senate staffers, Marcus Hall and Alicia Colatarci-Reimann and his treasurer, Jacobs, stole money from Maziarz campaign fund and that is why it was filed as unitemized. The investigation, commenced under former DA Michael Violante, was halted by the election of Caroline Wojtaszek as DA, based on a conflict of interest; she is married to longtime Maziarz ally, Henry Wojtaszek.
- Erie County DA, 2017. The Niagara County DA transferred the case to Erie County DA, Michael Flynn in February 2017. It is reported that Erie County DA may await results of the Attorney General’s investigation despite the investigation being on an entirely different track (grand larceny of staff) than the state (election law).
To date, perhaps as much as $5 million in taxpayer money has been spent to investigate what appears to be no more than $151,000 in unitemized campaign funds.
There are also private costs to targets or potential targets of the investigation.
Hall retained attorney Rodney Personius.
Jacobs retained Terrance Conners.
Colatarci-Reimann retained Daniel French.
Michael Norris, now a state assemblymen, formerly the Niagara County GOP Chairman, retained Joel Daniels.
Maziarz retained Joseph LaTona.
These lawyers are paid at rates likely exceeding $300 per hour. Most likely, collectively, more than $300,000 has been spent in legal fees to defend targets or witnesses in an investigation of half as much money.
The Attorney General’s investigation may be interested in learning if Maziarz’s staff members stole any money from his account – which a forensic accounting completed by Freed Maxick – which Maziarz hired to investigate the unitemized money – seems to indicate.
Or the Attorney General may chose to disregard the larger crime in pursuit of the bigger headline.
In the end, it may be found that no one is guilty of anything other than sloppy bookkeeping.