New York judge sentenced to more than a year in prison for bribery

A disgraced judge was sentenced Tuesday to more than a year in prison for accepting a bribe from a western New York politician.

Former New York Supreme Court Justice John Michalek was sentenced Tuesday to 16 months in prison and a $5,000 fine after he admitted accepting bribes from former Erie County Democratic Committee chairman Steven Pigeon – a longtime ally of the ex-government. Andrew Cuomo – in exchange for vacillating legal cases.

In 2016, 71-year-old Michalek pleaded guilty to receiving and filing a false document for the program involving Pigeon, which he conducted between February 2012 and April 2015.

Pigeon, 61, helped two of Michalek’s family members get jobs and official appointments and even took Michalek to the Court of Appeals. Pigeon also gave the Buffalo Sabers and his family a free pass to a $1,000 fundraiser in the hockey judges’ box seats.

Ex-Chairman of the Erie County Democratic Committee Steven Pigeon,
Former Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman Steven Pigeon was sentenced to a year in prison in July for bribing the judge.

In return, Michalek gave the police information about his pending cases that were not available to the public. Pigeon discussed the pending lawsuits Michalek was handling and offered advice to the judge on the cases – even telling the judge which court-appointed counsel was assigned receivership in a case.

“Michalek has violated the very laws he was sworn to uphold as a judge on the state Supreme Court and lost the confidence of New Yorkers, all for personal gain,” Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. “New Yorkers deserve a justice system they can trust. That is why this corrupt behavior is so outrageous and unacceptable.”

In July, Pigeon was sentenced to a year in prison and a $5,000 fine after pleading guilty in 2018. He is also serving a four-month sentence in a separate federal case for helping arrange an illegal $25,000 campaign donation between a Canadian CEO — who is barred from campaign donations as a non-citizen — and a 2014 state politician.

ex-reg. Andrew Cuomo
Pigeon was a longtime ally of ex-gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Michalek’s defense attorney, Carrie Cohen, said they intend to appeal the verdict.

“We were disappointed with the verdict,” Cohen told the Post. “We think it’s unduly harsh and we plan to appeal and seek bail pending the appeal to the Court of Appeals.” New York judge sentenced to more than a year in prison for bribery


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