Assemblyman Joseph Errigo was charged Wednesday with taking a bribe to introduce legislation that would have helped a developer, a mysterious case which references an additional unnamed lawmaker who allegedly used the Republican as a foil.
The 79-year-old Errigo appeared briefly in U.S. District Court on counts of bribery and fraud. The judge released him without imposing bail.
Errigo, who as a Republican has little power in the Democratic-controlled Assembly, is accused of accepting at least $5,500 to introduce a bill in March that would have reduced local control over a Rochester-area project by allowing the Department of Transportation to review it and weigh in.
The legislation did not pass.
Errigo told FBI agents in May that he accepted the money and that it was a mistake, according to the complaint.
“The legislative process should not be up for sale to the highest bidder,” U.S. Attorney James Kennedy said at a news conference in Rochester. “By misusing his elected office to line his own pockets, Assemblyman Errigo has, as alleged in the complaint, undermined the integrity of our legislative process and abused the public trust.”
Errigo was elected to the 133rd Assembly District following the 2016 suicide of incumbent Bill Nojay. The district includes all of Livingston County and parts of Monroe and Steuben counties. He previously served in the Assembly from 2001 to 2010.
According to the complaint, the case against Errigo stemmed from an FBI investigation into an “unusually close relationship” between a different member of the Assembly and a lobbyist. It eventually expanded to include the alleged bribe payor and Errigo.
The FBI photographed the person who paid the bribe leaving $1,500 in Errigo’s car at his Pittsford office in February, the complaint said. Errigo allegedly received $2,000 more in March, 11 days before he introduced bill A10227 in the Assembly. With the FBI secretly monitoring, Errigo received another $2,000 in cash in April, according to the complaint.
The lobbyist received $5,000, some of which the lobbyist said would be used to “grease the skids with Errigo,” according to the complaint.
Errigo is charged with bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds and honest services wire fraud. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
He lost last month’s Republican primary but could still seek re-election on a third-party line. The former Marine and small business owner is not actively campaigning.