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Holt Says He'll Be "Upfront" with FBI in Contract Probe

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Erie County Legislature Chairman George Holt tells reporters he will be "up front" with the FBI in its investigation into a contract adopted back in December.

The alleged $3 million contract has been in question since a December 8th vote. That's when the Legislature held a chaotic budget meeting, rushing a package of budget amendments for approval before a midnight deadline.

One of the amendments included a $3 million allocation for a New Orleans-based company to conduct an alternative community incarceration program. County Comptroller Nancy Naples says that contract is illegal because it was not sent out for a bid.

Naples says she was questioned by the FBI last week about the contract. She says that $3 million remains illegally in the 2005 budget.

But Republican Legisator Charles Swanick says Naples is wrong. Swanick says $3 million is not in the budget for such a contract. He also defended Holt's efforts to try and float a resolution that would in turn save the county money.

"This is unprecedented when a comptroller will raise these kinds of issues and not provide us any documentation," Swanick said. "We have an opinion from the county attorney that says there is no commitment of any funds for this project.

"This is all about hurting a person's reputation. It's all about raising an issue that's not there. I think it's close to slanderous what is happening between the comptroller and Mr. Holt."

Legislature chairman Holt told reporters Sunday that he has no fears in talking with the FBI about the contract. He says the amendment was just a resolution.

It was also revealed that Holt received a $500 campaign contribution from an official of the company in question. But Holt says the money was returned.