Judge's neutrality questioned in Pigeon case

Steve Pigeon suggests search warrants were invalid
Posted at 9:25 PM, Sep 20, 2016

High profile political operative Steve Pigeon is taking a swing at the judge who authorized search warrants in connection with a bribery and extortion case against Pigeon.

The search warrants, executed in May 2015, authorized the search and seizure of items inside Pigeon's Buffalo residence, as well as other electronic data. Erie County Court Judge Michael Pietruszka was the judge who would have given the green light.

Paul Cambria, the attorney representing Pigeon, filed a submission that suggests Pietruszka was not a neutral party in the case because of his past political dealings with Pigeon. 

Published reports in the Buffalo News and Artvoice say Pietruszka dropped out of the running for State Supreme Court after Pigeon became the Erie County Democratic Party Chairman.  Pigeon was openly supporting another candidate for that position.  

The articles imply Pigeon's powerful influence may have been the reason why Pietruszka dropped out.

"there is reason to believe the search warrants were not reviewed and authorized by a detached and neutral magistrate," Cambria wrote in his supplemental filing, obtained by 7 Eyewitness News.

Pigeon was indicted in June 2016 on nine separate charges, including bribery and extortion.

"Mr. Pigeon maintains that a hearing is necessary to address the validity of the warrants and that Mr. Pigeon must be provided with the search warrant applications to fully defend himself against the instant charges and to enjoy the effective assistance of counsel," Cambria's submission states.

Cambria declined a request for comment in the matter. Pietruszka did not return 7 Eyewitness News' request for comment by the time of publishing.