Operative Tied to Cuomo Charged With Bribing a Judge

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP/Hamodia) -

A political operative tied to Gov. Andrew Cuomo was indicted Thursday on bribery and other charges in a corruption probe that led to the resignation of a state Supreme Court judge a day earlier.

G. Steven Pigeon, a key figure in Cuomo’s 2014 reelection campaign, was arraigned on charges he offered favors and gifts worth more than $10,000 to Judge John Michalek, who pleaded guilty Wednesday and is to be sentenced Sept. 21.

Pigeon, 55, was released on bond after surrendering his passport. His attorney said Pigeon declined a plea offer and looked forward to trial. Pigeon is due back in court Sept. 12.

Pigeon, a lawyer who does consulting, is former chairman of the Erie County Democratic Party. His most serious charge, second-degree bribery, carries a prison term of up to 15 years.

Prosecutors allege Pigeon provided Michalek with box seats to two hockey games and a $1,000-per-head Cuomo fundraiser while Pigeon had an interest in several civil cases before the judge. He also agreed to help Michalek pursue an appellate court appointment and to find jobs for two of the judge’s relatives, according to the indictment.

“Normally I wouldn’t mention it to you,” the judge wrote in a December 2012 email regarding his quest for the appeals court appointment. “Wonder if you could help.”

Michalek wrote again the next month, asking “Unc Steve… How’d it go with the Gov????”

“Bunch happening… In Albany now… Gov went well… Talked u up,” Pigeon responded. “Let’s have coffee soon.”

“The proof against him is very strong,” Assistant Attorney General Susan Sadinsky told Judge Donald Cerio Jr. in requesting bail be set at $25,000. Cerio instead set bail at $10,000 cash or $20,000 bond.