"Smokin' Joe" Anderson Sentenced

February 24, 2011 Updated Feb 24, 2011 at 6:43 PM EDT

By WKBW Programming

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February 24, 2011 Updated Feb 24, 2011 at 6:43 PM EDT

BUFFALO, N.Y.--( release )U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Joseph Anderson, 51, of Sanborn, New York, who pleaded guilty to mail fraud, was sentenced to a $50,000 fine by Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny. Anderson's cooperation with the Government in its investigation of former Niagara Falls Mayor Vincenzo Anello led to Anello's felony conviction and 13-month prison sentence Judge Skretny imposed on Anello December 20, 2010.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul J. Campana, who handled the case, stated that Anderson, a prominent businessman in Niagara County, pleaded guilty November 7, 2008, to aiding and abetting former Niagara Falls Mayor Vincenzo Anello in a scheme to deprive the citizens of Niagara Falls of the honest services of an elected official. Anderson admitted paying Anello $30,000 while Anello was a candidate for mayor and a sitting member of the Niagara Falls City Council, plus another $10,000 a week after Anello was elected mayor in November 2003. Campana said the payments to Anello were styled as "loans," but there was no written loan agreement and no interest rate. Anello made no re-payments during his single four-year term as mayor, which ended December 31, 2007. Early in his first year as mayor, Anello proposed a no-bid lease for the City’s East Pedestrian Mall, recommending to the City Council that it grant the lease to a company owned partly by Anderson. Neither Anello nor Anderson ever told the City Council that Anello had received $40,000 from Anderson and that none of the money had been repaid. The City Council approved the lease.

After he left office, Anello, an electrician, performed electrical contracting work for Anderson's companies while Anello was in retirement status with his union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local No. 237. On September 2, 2010, Anello pleaded guilty to defrauding the union's welfare fund based upon his filing of false transmittals with the union's welfare fund wherein Anello claimed he had worked about seven hours a week beginning in March 2008, when in fact he was working full time. Judge Skretny sentenced Anello to 13 months in prison and ordered him to repay the $45,000 Anello owed to the union's welfare fund.

The conviction was the result of investigations by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of James H. Robertson, Special Agent In Charge of the FBI's Buffalo Field Office, and the United States Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Marjorie Franzman, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Region.