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Father and son admit to paying bribes to Buffalo police officers

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Posted at 2:17 PM, May 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-09 14:19:34-04

A father and son involved in a conspiracy to pay bribes to Buffalo police officers plead guilty Tuesday.

Acting U.S. Attorney James Kennedy says James Mazzariello, Jr., 62, and his son, Adam Mazzariello, 37, both from Alden, both face a maximum of five years in prison, a fine of $25,000, or both.

In addition to conspiring to pay bribes, James Mazzariello, Jr. also pleaded guilty to making subscribing a false tax return, according to officials.

Authorities say James Mazzariello, Jr. owned and operated Jim Mazz Auto, Inc. ("Jim Mazz Auto") and National Towing, Inc. ("National Towing"). The companies dealt with all automobile towing and repairs. Adam Mazzariello supervised the towing services of his father's business.

According to the Assistant U.S. Attorneys on the case, between January 2009 and May 2012, both father and son instructed the tow truck operators to make bribe payments to certain Buffalo police officers to enable the drivers to tow vehicles damaged in accidents in the City of Buffalo.

The tow truck operators made these payments out-of-pocket and were reimbursed by the Mazzariellos, according to authorities. They also say the two men also authorized others to reimburse the bribe payments.

Through investigation, officials substantiated 19 different bribe payments. These payments totaled about $500 to officers while Jim Mazz Auto netted $43,022.74, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

"In all public corruption cases, our goal is to identify those public officials who violate the trust of the people," said Acting U.S. Attorney Kennedy. "As prosecutors, however, we are constrained by the evidence that we are able to gather. Here, that evidence culminated in today's pleas. We will continue, along with the FBI, Buffalo Police and NYS, our efforts to identify and bring to justice any police officer who may have accepted illegal bribes. Since sunlight is the best disinfectant, we expect that this case will clean up the way towing services are provided in teh City of Buffalo."

James Mazzariello, Jr. also filed false corporate and individual tax returns for tax years 2009 and 2010 and underreported the gross revenue from his business in order to pay less in federal taxes, according to officials. They say the total tax loss was $125,311.

Both men are expected to be sentenced August 24.