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Tow truck manager admits to ‘pay to play’ scheme in bribing Buffalo cops

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

A 30-year-old tow truck manager has admitted to taking part in a 'pay to play' scheme of bribing Buffalo Police officers.

Christopher Mahoney pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Arcara, for conspiring to pay bribes to City of Buffalo police officers. 

Mahoney was a manager at Jim Mazz Auto. The FBI-led investigation broke last October revealing some Buffalo Police were tipping off the towing company about accident scenes in the city. 

U.S. Attorney William Hochul held a news briefing at his Buffalo office Tuesday following the court appearance. Hochul told reporters Mahoney admitted to reimbursing tow truck operators who bribed city cops.

"We've been able to determine that 19-different bribe payments were made. Mahoney admitted his guilt to those payments," said Hochul. "He also indicated he is going to cooperate with this on-going investigation."

But Hochul would not say if charges will be placed against any police officers. "At this point, we are just not prepared to announce any charges against police officers," said Hochul. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell T. Ippolito, Jr., who is handling the prosecution, said a daily ledger from Mazz Auto indicated the bribery payments.

"The daily ledger is a very important piece of evidence," said Ippolito.

James and Adam Mozzarella were also arrested and indicted for conspiring to pay bribes to Buffalo cops.  Mazz Auto received $43,022.74 in gross revenue based on the bribe payments. James Mazzariello, Jr. is also charged with filing false corporate tax returns and false personal tax returns for calendar years 2009 and 2010. 

"It's still an on-going investigation and I anticipate a through look by the Buffalo Police Department, the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office," said Brian P. Boetig, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Buffalo Division.

Mahoney is scheduled to be sentenced on October 20, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. before Judge Arcara.