BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — A once powerful political figure in Buffalo is now behind bars after being arraigned on a six-count indictment.
Steve Pigeon, 61, former Erie County Democratic Party chairman, is charged with the following:
- Two counts of Predatory Sexual Assault Against a Child (Class “A-II” felonies)
- One count of Rape in the First Degree (Class “B” felony)
- One count of Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree (Class “B” felony)
- One count of Sexual Abuse in the First Degree (Class “D” felony)
- One count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Class “A” misdemeanor)
Pigeon was charged on an indictment after turning himself into to State Police at the Clarence Barracks Thursday morning and then appeared before State Supreme Court Justice Christopher Burns. He entered the courtroom wearing an orange prison suit and handcuffed.
The former party boss no longer looking like the powerful political broker he once was in Buffalo.
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said Pigeon allegedly engaged in sexual intercourse and sexual conduct with a child less than 11-years-old at a location in Erie County sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2016. The child was known to Pigeon.
"This is rape," Flynn stated. "This isn't child molestation."
Flynn calling the charges "significant" during a news conference early Thursday afternoon following the arraignment.
"Of two counts of predatory sexual assault against a child — those are both class a felonies — he was charged with one count of rape in first degree, a Class B. felony," remarked Flynn. "The two counts of predatory sexual assault against a child are two different, alleged sex acts that occurred."
Prosecutors say Pigeon reached out to a family member of the victim in a text stating "why won't you call. I'm ready to do something drastic. You have to talk to me", then he later showed up at the victim's home.
"Uninvited. Unannounced, where the defendant was banging on the front door of the victim and her mother's home, demanding to speak to them," stated Patrick Swanson, assistant district attorney.
Prosecutors say two of Pigeon's friends also showed up a couple days later at that same home and that's when a call was place to police in Hamburg.
Flynn told reporters he learned of the allegations just a few months ago when a lawyer for the mother of the victim contacted him. But Flynn refused to give any further details to protect the identify of the victim
"After the lawyer called me, I then gave her to my investigators, gave her to my attorneys and they went from there. My people are the ones who brought in the State Police," explained Flynn.
Charges carry 25 years to life in prison. Pigeon entered a not guilty plea through his attorney was remanded without bail, and has been scheduled to return on Monday, December 6, 2021 at 9:15 a.m. before State Supreme Court Justice M. William Boller.
"I do not believe that Mr. Pigeon should be out of jail. I believe he should be in jail for the rest of his life," Flynn responded.
DA Flynn said he expects the defense will argue Pigeon is not a flight risk and should be released on bail.
"We will argue that, quite frankly, is not true," Flynn said. "We will argue that the defendant doesn't have any ties to the community anymore, that he really has no permanent address. From what we can gather, he's staying down in Florida half the time, he's got a buddy that lives in Niagara Falls, hangs out with him once in a while, and he doesn't have any kind of permanent home in Buffalo."
The judge also issued an order of protection for the child and their mother.
Pigeon, a well-known political operative in the region, is also facing other charges in two other cases.
In fall of 2018, Pigeon pleaded guilty to making an illegal campaign contribution to former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Prior to that, Pigeon pleaded guilty too bribing a judge. He faces sentencing in both cases.
Flynn told reporters that reports of Pigeon claiming these new charges are related to his previous troubles is not true.
"I can tell you that all of that is utter nonsense," declared Flynn. "It had nothing — zero to do with anything else he was facing or anything else related to that matter at all."
Flynn said it has "absolutely nothing do do with previous charges."
Pigeon's defense attorney, Justin Ginter, declined to comment on the case as he emerged from the courtroom Thursday following the arraignment.