Who should cover these legal fees?

Posted at 6:29 PM, May 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-19 14:03:11-04

Page after page documents the hours of work two separate law firms spent analyzing whether Erie County Legislative Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo could also be West Seneca’s town prosecutor. 

Lorigo said they were hired as part of a political witch hunt against him. “People should know that the county executive used the county attorney's office and taxpayer money to fund a political attack against one of his opponents.”

According to the paper trail, the two firms, including Poloncarz’s former employer, Kavinoky Cook LLP, are looking to collect nearly $25,000 in legal fees after concluding he shouldn't hold both positions. “Other legislators have sat in the leg and been town prosecutors in the past,” Lorigo said. “There was never any problem. This was simply a political hit by Mark Poloncarz.”

Lorigo has since resigned from the town post. But not before paying $4,000 out of his own pocket for legal counsel. His firm reached a different conclusion from the others. “I went out and got my own opinion from Phillips, Lytle which said the positions are compatible. There was no vacating of any seat. I could hold both at any time if I wanted. “

The county executive wouldn’t comment on the issue.

Late Wednesday, County Attorney, Michael Saragusa sent the following letter to Legislative Chariman John Mills. 




It says the expense was justified to protect the actions of a legislative body that oversees a $1.7 billion budget and that none of this was ever politically motivated. 

The county comptroller has already said he won't pay the legal fees and believes Poloncarz should pay for them, himself.