Joe Mascia, a Buffalo Municipal Housing Commissioner who was suspended after a cell phone video was made public where he said several racial slurs, was in court Friday, fighting to get his job back.
In the video, you can hear Mascia, who was running for Buffalo Common Council at the time, calling several African-American leaders in Buffalo the "N" word.
Mascia never denied he was speaking in the video, instead telling 7 Eyewitness News reporter Katie Morse that they were "out of character" and were made "at a moment of weakness." Mascia has repeatedly apologized for the comments.
"You know like I said, I'm 70-years-old. This is not part of my DNA. If it was it would have surfaced a long time ago. I don't think anybody could call me a bigot or a racist. Anybody. Not people who know me. And know me well," he said.
Mascia lost the race for Buffalo Common Council and was suspended from the board of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority. He and his attorney were in court Friday as the Authority looks to remove him from the board.
Mascia'a attorney argued the city doesn't have the right to remove an elected official and says it's up to the voters. He admits his client said the derogatory words but added Mascia has done a lot of good for the community and actions speak louder than words. He also argued that Mayor Brown handpicked the hearing officer.
The City of Buffalo charged Mascia with misconduct in office and accused him of violating the code of ethics as a board member of the BMHA. Shauna Stron, the City of Buffalo's attorney," called Mascia's refusal to step down an, "insult to injury," stating that many residents want Mascia removed.
Mascia took the stand Friday, claiming he was "manipulated" the derogatory comments.
You can listen to what Mascia was recorded saying below. Please be aware that the language used is offensive:
Here is a transcript of the exchange:
Mascia: I filed suit against the five appointed commissioners [of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority.]
Driver: What’s the matter with you?
Mascia: Well they were appointed wrong. They were appointed and they were confirmed by the Common Council without their due diligence and them vetting the process. So f*** them too.
Driver: They can get you for discrimination.
Mascia: They can get me for whatever they want.
Driver: That’s why you’re going after [Michael] Seaman, [chairman of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority].
Mascia: That’s right. Seaman first, that way they can’t say it’s discrimination.
EDITED – During this portion, Mascia talks about people he plans on “taking down.” It was removed due to a discussion about a lawsuit being filed. The conversation picks up when the person recording the video is asking Mascia about who else he plans on “taking down.”
Driver: What about the mayor?
Mascia: He’s part of it. They’re his appointees; they’re all a part of his crew.
Driver: What is he?
Mascia: He’s a f***ing n****r.
Driver: What is he?
Mascia: So who did you hear that from, about the mayor leaving in May?
Driver: [Says name that’s difficult to make out]
Mascia: What the f*** does he know?
Driver: What is he?
Mascia: Him? He’s a f***ing camel jockey.
Driver: What’s Darius?
Mascia: Oh, another n****r. F***ing n****rs.
Driver: What’s Leonard Williams?
Driver: What’s Mike Seaman?
Mascia: N****r. He’s a w****r.
Driver: What’s Donna Sanders?
Mascia: She’s a f***ing dumb n****r.
Driver: What’s she doing with the car?
Mascia: You see her girlfriend Crystal Peoples is getting her girlfriend Collins as the new chancellor? Bob Bennett is out! Them n****rs take over, man. They… [Carl] Heastie, [State Assembly Speaker,] says whatever Crystal Peoples wants. So the f***ing n****rs man, I told ya. They get in power, forget about it. Forget it. They want it all.
EDITED – The final section of the video was removed. Once again, Mascia and the driver are talking about a lawsuit, including a freedom of information request, and the inner politics of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority.
Mascia said he made the comments, which he didn't know were being recorded, in the fall of 2014, after getting angry over the reappointment of five commissioners on the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority board.
"When the same five commissioners were appointed again, it was frustrating, and I was angry about it. Again - it was something that never should have been said, it was said out of weakness, it was a weak moment," he said.
Mascia's attorney objected to the tape being played in court, saying it may have been tampered with. But after listening to arguments, the hearing officer determined the tape could be played.
The hearing is expected to take four to five days.
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