"After I learned he had advised the senator not to shred those documents, I was terrified that the staff was going to get blamed somehow in this investigation for doing that," Reimann said in a recent interview with the Times Union. "(Maziarz) ran his office and his campaign with an iron fist. There was not a thing that went on that he did not know about or instruct us to do."

 

In May 2014, Reimann — who has left state government and now works in public relations for a nonprofit organization — became a cooperating witness in the federal investigation. Her assistance included debriefings with federal law enforcement authorities, and she also wore a recording device on multiple occasions when she met with members of Maziarz's inner circle, which he referred to as the "Kitchen Cabinet.

In the series of interviews, Reimann provided the FBI with detailed information about Maziarz's dealings, including his oversight of the shredding of campaign documents — activity he referred to as a "special project."

But Reimann took heat for her cooperation, which became known to Maziarz and his supporters.

In December 2015, not long after Kosinski became co-chairman, the Board of Elections issued an investigative report recommending a criminal prosecution into the handling of campaign funds by Reimann and four others who had once worked for Maziarz and were cooperating in the criminal investigation. The report alleged Reimann and the others had received tens of thousands of dollars from the campaign account that were not reimbursements and may have been "larcenies."

But the elections' report misrepresented some facts, including the allegation that Reimann had a "recent" bankruptcy.

Attorneys for Reimann said they believe the report may have been structured to discredit her after she cooperated in the investigation. E. Stewart Jones, an attorney for Maziarz, filed a motion in his case accusing the state attorney general's office, which took over the case, of "selective prosecution."

The attorney general's office responded that it examined the information but declined to pursue a criminal case because it found the undocumented expenditures were due to poor record-keeping and loose spending, not larceny.

During a December 2014 interview, Reimann told the FBI about allegations that in 2013, Maziarz, who had been allotted $1.5 million in state funds to distribute at his discretion, directed that all of the money be given to the city of Lockport, where his stepdaughter worked as a police officer. Reimann told the FBI that former Lockport Mayor Michael Tucker, who had resigned in February 2014, informed her that the money "was about Tricia Denny, the stepdaughter of Maziarz, and saving her position as a police officer in the Lockport Police Department."

Reimann also talked about a "little known 'pot of money'" available to a few senators from the New York Power Authority that was given to the lawmakers for discretionary use. She told agents the money came from power-overage charges and that Skelos had shared some of the funds with Maziarz, who at the time was chairman of the Senate's Energy Committee. She said the funds was referred to as "POKR" money, and that Maziarz had arranged to direct $200,000 of it to a private project by one of Maziarz's largest campaign donors, Lockport developer David Ulrich.

But Reimann said Maziarz pulled the funding from Ulrich's project after he learned the developer had also sought assistance from the Niagara County Industrial Development Authority, and that the senator thought the state grant "was going to be a political problem."

Reimann said she told Maziarz he should be "truthful" with Ulrich, but that the senator informed her that Niagara County Republican Chairman Henry Wojtaszek, who was a member of Maziarz's campaign team, would "take care of Ulrich's building." Reimann told the FBI she later read a story in a Niagara Falls newspaper indicating Ulrich's building received a contract to store the county's voting booths.

Reimann also described for the FBI how about nine years ago Maziarz authorized campaign funds to be used to purchase tickets for a raffle at a church in Williamsville. She said the campaign purchased the winning ticket and Maziarz kept the $8,000 cash prize.

Reimann believes her cooperation has led Maziarz and those close to him to try to destroy her reputation while casting her as someone who escaped criminal prosecution. She was never accused of wrongdoing.

Schneiderman's office did not obtain any felony convictions in the case.

Three weeks ago, on March 2, Maziarz settled a five-count felony indictment by pleading guilty to a misdemeanor. The former lawmaker paid a $1,000 fine but faces no jail time. Last June, an Albany County judge threw out the related criminal case against current state Sen. Rob Ortt, R-Niagara County, who succeeded Maziarz in the Senate and had been charged in the same indictment for an alleged scheme to arrange a no-show job for Ortt's wife.

In a related case last March — on the same day Maziarz and Ortt were indicted — Wojtaszek pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor to settle charges he helped illegally funnel campaign funds to Aronow by falsifying Board of Elections filings.

In February 2017, the Times Union reported that Wojtaszek's wife Caroline, the Niagara County district attorney, filed an affidavit recusing her office from the investigation into the campaign accounts of Maziarz. Caroline Wojtaszek asked a judge to hand over her office's files on the probe to Erie County district attorney, whose office has not pursued the case.

Caroline Wojtaszek, who was elected in November 2016, said in the affidavit that she was made aware of the files at her office after being contacted by Maziarz's attorney, Joseph M. LaTona.

In May 2014, during a meeting at Henry Wojtaszek's law office in Niagara Falls, Reimann said LaTona informed her, Maziarz, Hall, Wojtaszek and Laureen Jacobs that he had arranged attorneys for the senator's staff members, and wanted to conduct a forensic audit of the campaign accounts. Reimann said that during the meeting, Maziarz told the group they were "going to stick together ... there is nothing criminal occurring."

However, two days later, a previous Maziarz chief of staff, Rick Winter, told Reimann, "You have to bring your own parachute." She told the FBI she interpreted Winter's statement to mean that Maziarz was planning to throw her "under the bus," and blame her and possibly Jacobs and Hall for any improprieties in the campaign accounts.

Instead of accepting the attorney offered by LaTona, Reimann retained Daniel J. French of Syracuse, a former U.S. attorney in New York's Northern District. She then met with the FBI and began cooperating in the investigation.

No one else has faced charges in the investigation.

 

https://m.timesunion.com/local/article/FBI-files-detail-former-NY-senator-s-corruption-12768786.php