NY judge sentenced for accepting bribes from Democratic Party power broker

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Photo credit BRAD NADING/GARDEN CITY TELEGRAM / USA TODAY NETWORK

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — A former New York State Supreme Court justice was sentenced to one year and four months in jail for accepting bribes from a notorious Democratic Party political operative, Attorney General Letitia James announced Thursday.

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Former judge John Michalek, 71, took bribes from former Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman G. Steven Pigeon, 61, in exchange for political, judicial and personal favors.

“New Yorkers put their trust in judges and public servants to serve the interests of the people, not make a mockery of our institutions for personal financial gain,” said James. “Former Judge Michalek and party leader Pigeon engaged in a deep web of deception and bribery that violated their duty to the public and the very laws Michalek swore to uphold.”

Between February 2012 and April 2015 Michalek and Pigeon exchanged emails and texts revealing a regular exchange of bribes to influence judicial decisions, make court appointments and secure positions for family members.

Pigeon gave Michalek free box tickets to Buffalo Sabres hockey games and free tickets to a $1,000 political fundraiser.

Michalek discussed non-public information with Pigeon, including multiple pending lawsuits he was presiding over.

In June 2016, Michalek pleaded guilty to bribe recovering and offering a false instrument for filing — a charge that amounts to knowingly filing false legal documents.

He resigned as a judge and was disbarred from practicing law soon after.

Pigeon was sentenced to one year in jail on Wednesday, which is in addition to a four month federal sentence for a different set of corruption charges.

Each was also made to pay a $5,000 fine.

This bribery case is the latest in a slew of political and personal legal issues for Pigeon — a once-powerful influence peddler in the New York political machine.

In October 2018 he admitted to arranging an illegal $25,000 campaign donation to disgraced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo from a Canadian CEO in 2004.

The donation was originally rejected because it came from someone who is not a U.S. citizen, but Pigeon arranged for a U.S. citizen working under the CEO to make the donation instead.

Pigeon is also accused of rape and sexual assault against a child. He pleaded not guilty to those charges in December, and the trial is still ongoing.

The former committee chairman also worked as a political consultant for NXIVM, the sexually violent multi-level marketing scam turned cult.