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Father-son tow truck operators admit pay-to-play scheme


A father and son from Alden have pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to conspiring to pay bribes to Buffalo Police officers.

James Mazzariello Jr., 62, and 37 year old Adam Mazzariello, 37, each face up to five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both when sentenced on August 24.

"The facts of this case are the reason the FBI's public corruption program exists," said Adam Cohen, Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI's Buffalo Division. "There were accusations that tow truck operators were offering bribes to public officials, in this instance police officers. Not only did the Mazzariello’s engage in this corrupt activity in their regular course of business, but they then went on to profit significantly as a result of those bribes."

James Mazzariello owns and operates Jim Mazz Auto and National Towing, while his son oversees the operation. They are charged with approving 19 different bribe payments totaling about $500 to Buffalo officers at accident scenes, in exchange for the rights to tow and repair damaged vehicles.

Authorities said, between January 2009 and May 2012, the gross revenues from the business generated from the bribes totaled over $43,000. James Mazzariello also pleaded guilty to making and subscribing a false tax return for tax years 2009 and 2010.

Authorities did not identify the police officers who took the bribes.  However, Acting U.S. Attorney James Kennedy said law enforcement "will continue to identify and bring to justice any police officer who may have accepted illegal bribes."

Mark Wozniak, WBFO's local All Things Considered host, has been at WBFO since mid-1978.
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