BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — State Supreme Court Justice John Michalski is remembered by close friend Anthony Lana as a loving family man.
"John was the life of the party and he'll be remembered as the fun-loving, great guy he was, versus the image that's been cast the last 12 to 13 months," Lana said. "That's not who he was."
Michalski was found dead in his Amherst home Tuesday morning. His attorney, Terry Connors, told 7 News Michalski died by suicide.
A search warrant had been executed at his Hunter Lane home in March, just over a year after investigators questioned his friendship with local strip club owner Paul Gerace.
On February 28, 2021, Gerace was arrested in Florida on federal charges involving drugs, bribery and sex trafficking. On the same day, Michalski dislocated his kneecap after an incident involving a train in Depew. He took a medical leave following the incident, and had just returned to the bench in January. Two months later, his cases were reassigned after the search warrant was executed at his home.
Lana stands by his friend and former client's innocence of any illegal activity.
"He has maintained he has done nothing wrong," Lana told 7 News reporter Michael Schwartz, "and I believe him to this day."
Michalski was never charged with any crimes following both the search warrant executed at his home and the investigation in February 2021. However, the investigations sparked more questions from the public.
Lana said Michalski's death is a complete shock, and that he had just seen his friend recently.
"I was with him on Saturday afternoon, spent two hours with him, and he seemed fine."
Michalski is survived by his wife and four children.
If you or someone you know is in need of help, you can utilize the following resources:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Crisis Services 24-hour crisis hotline: (716) 834-3131
Crisis Services 24-hour crisis text hotline: (716) 300-2338
NYS/Crisis Text Line Partnership: text “Got5” to 741-741