The Corrupting of a Judge: Emails show underbelly of Erie County politics

Political boss Steve Pigeon indicted by feds
Posted at 6:44 PM, Oct 06, 2017

When the son of State Supreme Court Justice John Michalek needed a job in politics, state and federal authorities say Steve Pigeon was the man to make it happen.
A federal indictment unsealed Friday included emails that show Pigeon, the former Erie County Democratic Chairman, allegedly called in favors to get the judge's son a job on the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama -- at the request of the judge.

Pigeon wrote to his friend on the Obama campaign,

"Can u help the Michalek kid? It's important to me…This guy's Dad is a prominent Judge Democrat and friend…would like to get him a campaign position."

That position wasn't the only thing the sitting judge asked of the political kingmaker, who is close with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. 

"Steve," the judge emailed. "There is a seat open in the App Div [State Appellate Court]…I applied…wonder if you could help."

Then later, the judge asked Pigeon for an update,

"Unc Steve…How'd you do with the Gov???"

Pigeon said,

"In Albany now…Gov went well…Talked u up."

In exchange for the favors, prosecutors say the judge gave court receiverships worth tens of thousands of dollars to Pigeon's lawyer friends, whom the emails show he personally recommended.

The judge wrote, 

"Forward me some names."

Pigeon replied,

"How about (Person A) he is my guy...We just put him as Atty at Water Authority previously worked in City Atty office."

When that lucrative gig ran out, Pigeon appeared to be the one ready to find another place for his friend on the public payroll.

"(Person A) will be going thru tough time…Receivership ending and probably canned at Authority."

Pigeon has pleaded not guilty to the charges, while Michalek has resigned from the bench and has taken a plea deal to help the government's case against Pigeon.

Click here to read the main news story with the basics of the indictment an extended response from Pigeon's attorney and a response from the State Attorney General's office.