D.A. Caroline Wojtaszek Defends Against Maziarz Attack

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By: Staff Reporter

Last week, former state Sen. George Maziarz sent a letter to law enforcement offices, and the Niagara Gazette, accusing his former friend and supporter, Henry Wojtaszek, the CEO of the Western Region Off Track Betting, and his wife — Niagara County District Attorney and judicial candidate Caroline Wojtaszek – of various misdeeds and alleged crimes.

In his letter, Maziarz did not provide evidence of any actual crimes.

Last year, as Maziarz alludes to in his letter, federal investigators investigated operations of the Western Regional Off Track Betting Corp. [OTB] based on complaints of wrongful spending and/or use of tickets to Buffalo Bills and Sabres games, an OTB-funded vehicle, a cell phone and health insurance coverage to board members.

No charges were filed.

According to one legal source familiar with the investigation, “the matter is dead. There was a lot of hype and no substance. No crimes.”

OTB operates 19 betting parlors, 30 betting kiosks in restaurants and bars, and the harness racing track at Batavia Downs. It shares its profits with 15 counties and two cities.  There are 450 full and part-time employees.

Maziarz, in his letter attacking Wojtaszek, reiterated the already investigated claims and suggested that Wojtaszek got special treatment because, among other reason, he is white.

 

Former New York State Senator, and convicted criminal, George Maziarz.

 

By sending his letter to the media, Maziarz made it clear he wants media attention, possibly to assist his preferred candidate Michael Benedict who is running against Caroline for Niagara County Court Judge.

Maziarz wrote, “As of yet…  none of the bad actors involved in the misuse of these [taxpayer] resources … has been indicted, despite an overwhelmingly clear case against OTB leadership.”

Though making the conclusory allegations of “an overwhelmingly clear case,” Maziarz failed to cite actual evidence of wrongdoing. Instead he suggests the reason that Henry was not charged is not lack of evidence but the fact that he is White.

Jumping on the racial tensions bandwagon, Maziarz compared the OTB investigation that led to no finding of wrongdoing, to a 2016 FBI investigation that resulted in a federal corruption conviction of former Niagara Falls Housing Authority Director Stephanie Cowart, who is African American.

Cowart pled guilty after she was accused of spending $17,000 in taxpayer funds to pay two family members for “no-show” jobs.

“The crime committed by Ms. Cowart— which she admitted to and pled guilty to in a federal courtroom — pales in comparison to the fraudulent activities of Western Region OTB and Henry Wojtaszek,” Maziarz wrote, again without evidence.

“One must note,” Maziarz continued, “… that the matter that was adjudicated involved a Black female, while the unresolved OTB matter involves, primarily, wealthy white males. [note Maziarz capitalizes Black but does not capitalize white.]

 

President and CEO of Western Regional OTB and Batavia Downs Gaming Henry Wojtaszek.

 

“Surely, you can see that there is an appearance of gross disparity in the application of justice in these two cases.”

Maziarz failed to mention that Cowert admitted her crime and that the grand jury found no probable cause to charge anyone at OTB be they White, Black or otherwise.

Maziarz made another false equivalency as he defended accused criminal Jeffrey Stowell, the Town of Pendleton highway supervisor indicted on charges of grand larceny after he was accused of stealing town property and had town employees work on his personal property.

DA Caroline Wojtaszek supervised his prosecution.

But for Maziarz it was unfair. Stowell is accused by actual law enforcement officials of stealing from taxpayers in amount of thousands of dollars, while private citizen Maziarz is accusing Henry of stealing possibly millions.

Maziarz writes in his campaign season attack letter, “It is the height of irony that the individual overseeing [Stowell’s] prosecution —District Attorney Caroline Wojtaszek — is married to a man at the center of a scandal involving potentially millions of dollars in taxpayer funds.”

Still, and it cannot be emphasized enough, unlike Cowert and Stowell, who were charged with committing crimes, no evidence has ever been presented that Henry Wojtaszek did anything wrong.

Of course, Maziarz has a reason to want to wreak vengeance on Henry, other than the fact that he is supporting Caroline’s opponent for County Judge.

Henry formerly served as chairman of the Niagara County Republican Party and was aligned with Maziarz before Maziarz resigned because of a NY State investigation into Maziarz’s alleged corruption when he was state senator.

 

Current District Attorney and candidate for County Court Judge Caroline Wojtaszek.

 

Henry testified against Maziarz in the public corruption case which resulted in Maziarz pleading guilty to a misdemeanor for filing a false campaign finance report with the New York State Board of Elections.

A frontpage story about Maziarz’s letter was published in the Niagara Gazette on July 3rd, 2020.

This prompted Henry’s wife, Caroline, to push back at Maziarz. She wrote a letter, addressed to the Gazette, a copy of which was provided to the Reporter.

We are publishing it in full:

Dear Editor,

I woke up Friday, July 3, 2020, to your above the fold headline “Maziarz letters target Wojtaszeks” with a by-line explaining that he sent letters to various state and federal agencies about me and my husband.

Accusations rehashed over and over again. This article on the eve of primary elections results for my campaign to be the next County Court Judge.

I did not provide comment to the article with the sincere hope that your news organization would think better of engaging in his brand of harassment.

There was a time, when George Maziarz was in my orbit, that I thought better of running for District Attorney. Maziarz was a local State Senator who to others appeared to be a person who rose through the ranks of government to proudly represent the people of Niagara County.

A man born and raised in North Tonawanda who arguably became the third most powerful man in our State. However, I knew him very differently.

Back then, I knew that if I ran for District Attorney he would expect to use the office to advance his agenda. You see, back then, I knew a petty man who would exact revenge on anyone who crossed him, anyone who dared to say no to him.

George Maziarz was the worst kind of politician- one who strives for power for power’s sake. Then almost six years ago, the person who dared to say no to him was my husband. My husband knew that to carry out Maziarz’s vendetta would tear the Niagara County Republican Party in two. I had a ringside seat to the many times that my husband had to save Maziarz from himself.

It was an exhausting job.

At first, we assumed his anger would subside like the many times before when Maziarz would finally come to his senses. This time was different, this time he was under pressure from a state ethics probe, this time, unbeknownst to anyone in his “inner circle,” Maziarz had ordered his staff to burn and shred all his files, this time was different because his own demons had taken over to create the seeds of a paranoia that has only risen to a fever pitch.

When you are questioned by the FBI, you tell the truth. Since that day, George Maziarz has tried every way possible to destroy my family. He has done it before; many people could tell you their own story of having said no to George Maziarz. Many can tell you the repercussions they endured. His wake is littered with friends, colleagues and even family members. The story is not new, the difference is, our story gets to sit on the front page, above the fold.

I ran for District Attorney, my lifelong dream, to lead an office that had given me so much. I can honestly say that not once since I have been District Attorney, has anyone, and I mean anyone, influenced my decisions other than the sound advice of a fellow colleagues. Right or wrong they have been my decisions. In my position, decisions are made on tough issues everyday and I must lay my head down at night at peace with myself. I have never made a “political hire.” Not once have I called someone or allowed anyone to influence my decision on a single hiring in my office.

Every new Assistant District Attorney was hired because they were the most skilled and showed the most potential. I could not tell you their political affiliation. Frankly, those choices will impact the office for years to come and I could not be prouder.

I am tired of this fight. I have often thought about walking away. I have often thought about the hard work, the long hours, the sleepless nights contemplating cases and their effect on people’s lives. I have thought, my children deserve more than to read headlines like I read today. I can take my hard work elsewhere. But what would I be teaching my daughter? That a bully wins, that lies prevail, that hard work does not matter, that you crush under pressure?

So my message to George Maziarz and anyone who follows him – I have thought long and hard and I am not going anywhere. Why? Because the voters decided that they want me to stay. Niagara County has decided, despite your best efforts to spread lies, that they want me to stay. Niagara County has decided that what you say does not matter anymore.

People are starting to open their eyes to your games of going to the FBI to make a complaint, then planting others to be a “source” to leak the information to the press and sit back and wait for the damage. You own personal cauldron of paranoia and vendettas will only serve in the end to bring misery to you and your family.

Maybe the Niagara Gazette will eventually join other news organizations and grow weary of your rants. The Republican Party has finally exorcised you from their midst.

Hopefully, the Democratic Party will examine their soul and decide that feeding off your carcass will only poison them too.

I am not going anywhere.

Submitted,

Caroline A. Wojtaszek

 

**attorney advertising**


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