THE NEW BONNIE & CLYDE: AG: Sen. Rob Ortt's wife had no-show job

March 23rd, 2017


THE NEW BONNIE & CLYDE: AG: Sen. Rob Ortt's wife had no-show job

LBANY - State Sen. Rob Ortt was arraigned Thursday on three felony charges of filing a false instrument, with former Sen. George Maziarz -- Ortt's predecessor -- due in court later in the afternoon.

Ortt, a North Tonawanda Republican whose district stretches into Monroe County, pleaded not guilty after the three-count indictment was unsealed in Albany County Court shortly after he surrendered to authorities Thursday morning.

All three charges are class E felonies, meaning a conviction would force the second-term senator out of office.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office accused Ortt -- in his previous job as North Tonawanda mayor -- of participating in a scheme to pad his salary by helping arrange a no-show job for his wife, with the money "falsely reported through a pass-through entity."

The full indictment had not yet been released Thursday morning: Since Maziarz is on the same indictment, it won't be fully revealed until he's arraigned at 1 p.m.

Ortt vowed to remain in office and fight the charges, painting them as a political witch hunt orchestrated by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat.

"I will fight these charges," Ortt said. "I am guilty of nothing, and I look forward to telling New Yorkers the truth about Eric Schneiderman."

Schneiderman's office claims Ortt's wife, a graphic designer, was paid $21,500 from 2010 through 2014 for the job, in which she performed no work. The payments are believed to have come from the Niagara County Republican Committee.

Henry Wojtaszek, the former Niagara County GOP chairman, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor election-law charge Wednesday.

In a statement, Schneiderman said no-show jobs are the "lifeblood of public corruption."

"New Yorkers deserve full and honest disclosures by their elected officials—not the graft and shadowy payments uncovered by our investigation," Schneiderman said. "These allegations represent a shameful breach of the public trust – and we will hold those responsible to account.”

Maziarz, R-Newfane, Niagara County, has not yet commented on his pending indictment, which was handed down by an Albany grand jury Wednesday.

A state senator for 20 years who grew to become a major power broker in western New York, Maziarz declined to seek re-election in 2014.

His campaign-fundraising practices have received scrutiny from state, federal and local prosecutors and investigators since that time.

http://www.wgrz.com/news/politics/senator-ortt-arraigned-in-albany-court/424927255

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