Pigeon pleads not guilty to bribery, other charges
A former Erie County Democratic Committee chairman and longtime local political operative faces nine counts in an indictment unsealed this morning in State Supreme Court. G. Steven Pigeon pled not guilty to all counts, which include bribery, rewarding official misconduct and a grand larceny charge.
Pigeon appeared in court Thursday morning. Those charges stem from an alleged case involving longtime judge John Michalek, who admitted in court Wednesday to taking a bribe, allegedly from Pigeon, whom the judge had allegedly communicated with to earn a desired position.
Attorney Paul Cambria is representing Pigeon and says his client looks forward to his day in court. He was asked about possible political motivations behind this week's developments.
"I think the community will make its own judgment as to whether or not politics are involved in this case once all the evidence comes in the courtroom, so we will wait for that," stated Cambria.
Cambria anticipates the trial will begin in early 2017, after motions and procedures. The most serious bribery count could put Pigeon in prison for up to 15 years.
The probe leading to this week's charges against Michalek and Pigeon contends that the two exchanged numerous emails, with Michalek securing Pigeon's help in seeking an appellate division seat in exchange for providing Pigeon and his associates preferential treamtent in cases of interest. Michalek, in his guilty plea Tuesday, admitted to accepting gifts including tickets to Buffalo Sabres hockey games.
"Obviously, Mr. Pigeon has entered a plea of not guilty to all the charges," said Cambria. "He vehemently denies any wrongdoing. We're looking forward to our day in court."
Prosecutors pushed for $25,000 bail. Judge Conald Cerio, who has come to Buffalo from Syracuse to oversee this case, set bail at $10,000 cash or $25,000 bond. Pigeon posted bond immediately after his arraignment and surrendered his passport and enhanced driver's license. Cambria argued in court, though, that there was no reason to fear Pigeon as a flight risk, given his longtime roots in Western New York and his unwillingness to jeopardize his status as a lawyer.
"Believe me, he wants to be here and he wants to have this trial," Cambria said. "There's no chance of him fleeing the jurisdiction, that's for sure.
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was scheduled to detail the charges Thursday afternoon in Buffalo.