Maziarz pleads guilty to misdemeanor involving campaign funds
George Maziarz, a former state senator who represented Orleans County in Albany for nearly 20 years, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in Albany County Court today, ending a saga that threatened him with a felony and possible prison time.
Maziarz pleaded guilty to offering of a false instrument for filing in the second degree, which Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said was related to a pass-through scheme in which Maziarz used money from his campaign committee to funnel secret campaign payments to a former Senate staffer, Glen Aronow. He had left government service amid charges of sexual harassment. The plea was entered today in Albany County Court before Judge Peter Lynch.
“Today’s guilty plea and full admission sends a strong message to every elected official that if you abuse the public trust, you will be rooted out, and there will be a public accounting of your crime,” Schneiderman said in a statement to the media. “This case stands for a very simple but important principle, which is that you cannot use your campaign account as a slush fund to avoid public scrutiny. No one, not even George Maziarz, can use campaign accounts to deceive the public, flout the law, and pay off friends.”
Maziarz acknowledged in court he wanted to continue to use the services of Aronow without the public knowing. The former state legislator arranged for payment to Aronow through a series of intermediaries, including Synor Marketing, knowing that those payments would not be included on various public filings with the Board of Elections, including the 2012 July Periodic disclosure, making them knowingly false, Schneiderman said.
In addition to the admission of guilt, Maziarz will also pay a $1,000 fine plus relevant surcharges.
The attorney general didn’t get a felony conviction against Maziarz. Schneiderman also charged Maziarz’s successor in the State Senate, Robert Ortt, with felony election law violations in March 2017. The attorney general said Ortt and other Niagara County Republican Party officials devised a pass-through scheme for Ortt’s wife to be paid for a no-show job. Those charges were dismissed in what Ortt said was a politically motivated case.
“This quick and forthright dismissal exposed Eric Schneiderman for the power hungry, political opportunist that he is,” Ortt said in a statement on June 27, 2017. “It is my hope that this ruling today will force Mr. Schneiderman to think twice before concocting baseless charges to serve his own radical progressive political agenda again.”