George Maziarz and Gary Coscia, a Match Made in Hades — The Ugly Story Behind the NF Courthouse

By Frank Parlato

Most people in Niagara County know George Maziarz or think they know him. He was state senator for 17 years – until he stepped away, choosing not to run for reelection in 2014 because he was under investigation for corruption.

After being indicted on five felony corruption charges, Maziarz fell from being the most powerful politician in Niagara County to a man nobody wanted to be close to.

Former State Senator George Maziarz, once the most powerful politician in Niagara County. He seeks vengeance on his enemies, at all costs.

One man, however, saw advantage in working with Maziarz, a man cut from a similar cloth. His name is Gary Coscia and he owns Largo Capital.

Maziarz was able to get a misdemeanor plea deal in 2018 and pay a fine, avoiding prison time. And Largo Capital retained the services of an unemployed George Maziarz.

Largo Capital, located in Amherst New York, found employment for a rudderless George Maziarz.

Largo brokers loans on commercial real estate, acting essentially as a middleman, collecting fees for putting borrowers – who are not savvy enough to go to lenders directly – in touch with lenders and handling loan applications.  They take a fee for being an, arguably, useless middleman.

After hiring Maziarz, Largo said Maziarz would focus on “business development throughout the East Coast”, with an emphasis on New York and Florida, working closely with “companies seeking to invest in New York, by assisting commercial real estate owners/developers with their financing needs”.

The warm pairing of Maziarz and Coscia was a match made in Hades. Each had a “business development strategy” and fortunately for them, their respective strategies were similar.

For nearly three decades, Coscia was rumored to “use and abuse politicians” to gain a competitive advantage. And the list of employees who claim he stiffed them out of commissions is legion.

Maziarz has a similar track record.

According to ex-employees, Coscia runs his company like his own personal fiefdom, much like Maziarz used to run Niagara County.

The Reporter is doing an ongoing, in-depth investigation of Coscia’s role in the reputed fleecing of Niagara Falls, when he and convicted [for bid-rigging] felon Lou Ciminelli were involved in building the Niagara Falls Courthouse and Police Station – collectively known as the Public Safety Building.

Coscia was a pleasure for all corrupt robbers of the public treasury to watch, as he seemingly coopted three city councilmen to get them to give him exactly what he wanted.

It became so brazen, the council and Coscia/Ciminelli used the same attorney to handle the courthouse deal – an outrageous conflict of interest.

The short version is this:

Gary Coscia – one has to be impressed by the way he outsmarted three gullible councilmen – and took Niagara Falls to the cleaners.

Coscia, who grew up in Niagara Falls and built his business in Amherst, came back carpetbagging, promising to invest $50 million of his own money into Main Street [and who knows what he promised to invest into three councilmen?]

Not only that, he would build the courthouse for $27 million and own the building, charging the city rent. He would be the city’s landlord.

Not only that, he promised he would take the old, derelict police station on Hyde Park off the city’s hands and demolish it, saving the city more money.

The three councilmen were elated. They voted for Coscia to build the courthouse – for $27 million.

After all, they argued, Coscia would finance the building through Largo and it was a competitive price. Best of all, Largo and Ciminelli would own the building and be responsible for maintenance and charge the city a low, fixed rent.

Mayor Vince Anello had a competing developer who would also build the courthouse for $27 million, but the city would have to finance it and own the building.

The three councilmen sided with Coscia and ditched Anello’s developer.

After all, Coscia would handle everything and invest millions into Main Street, which was filled with empty storefronts, a shadow of what was once a vibrant commercial street in the 1960s.

Main Street in Niagara Falls looks like a third world country after a bombing attack.

Main Street was once a bustling thriving business center of the city – in the 1960s. Gary Coscia with his genius was going to bring it all back.

Coscia was a savior of the city

Once the deal was inked, and the other developer sent packing, Coscia came to the boys, councilmen Robert Anderson [deceased], Babe Rotella [deceased] and Glenn Choolokian and told them the price needed to be upwardly adjusted.

Mayor Anello threw a fit, but the council outvoted him, and the price went up to $33 million, then $35 million, then $37 million for the same courthouse plans.

Mayor Anello got a firm bid to build based on the plans for the Niagara Falls Municipal Complex for $27 million. The same building wound up being built for $50 million, and taxpayers can thank Gary Coscia for that.

But who could object? After all, Coscia was financing it and it would not require the city to float a bond or raise money. Coscia would pay for it all and charge the city a cheaper rent than they would pay for the bond had they gone with Anello’s developer.

Total cost does not matter, Coscia explained. It is the rent which he would charge the city that mattered, and he promised to keep the rent low.

Besides he and Ciminelli would be plowing millions into moribund Main Street and the higher taxes collected by the city for a revitalized Main Street would probably offset the rent altogether.

It was almost like getting a free courthouse, Coscia explained.

After hiking the price by $10 million, Coscia came back with more bad news.

He wasn’t going to be able to invest any money into improving Main Street.  It wasn’t feasible at this time given the sad condition of Main Street.

The deal he made to take the old police station off the city’s hands and demolish it, at his expense, also wasn’t viable. There was too much asbestos on the property, and it would cost too much.

The old public safety building on Hyde Park. Gary Coscia and his partner Lou Ciminelli offered to take this building off the city’s hands and demolish as part of the deal.

Happily, since the council and Coscia had the same attorney, it was easy enough to modify the deal. His three good friends, the councilmen, whose hatred for Anello was possibly greater than their love for the city, voted to approve Coscia’s new plan.

OK– so he wouldn’t invest in Main Street, and OK, the price is $10 million more – at least Coscia is financing the courthouse, so life is good.  The rent will be low.

Then Coscia came with good news and bad news. Bad for the city but good for the councilmen, especially Babe Rotella, who was planning to run for mayor.

Lewis ‘Babe’ Rotella had hopes of being the mayor — and Gary Coscia wanted to help his dear friend.

Coscia was going to help him get elected, that was the good news.

The bad news was Coscia wasn’t able to finance the courthouse after all. The city would have to finance it.

Rotella led the council to vote to let Coscia build the courthouse without financing it, at a new higher price, some $13 million more than Anello’s developer would have built the same courthouse.

The city would now fund the more expensive courthouse by floating a bond.

Coscia reneged on everything he promised –to invest in Main Street, to demolish the old police station, to build the courthouse for $27 million, and to finance the courthouse.

The promises that got him in the door, he broke, yet mysteriously, the council went along with each change.

Maybe that was because Coscia had one promise yet unbroken —to support Rotella for mayor.

If Rotella won for mayor, the sky was the limit for the good men who supported him on the council. Anello would be gone and happy days would be here again.

Sure, Coscia had to come back again to the council– and up the price again. He found it was a little more expensive to build than he thought – and he inched the price up to $40 million, then $41 million.

No worries, Rotella was going to be mayor and he and the council approved the hiked price.

And Coscia was true to his word, He supported Rotella for mayor as the campaign season began.

It was going well until, unhappily, Coscia got wind of some polling results. The polls showed there was no chance Rotella was going to win.

Paul Dyster was miles ahead in the polls.

Paul Dyster

The polls showed Paul Dyster was going to trounce Babe Rotella and Gary Coscia had to reluctantly abandoned his councilmen friend to go with the new kid on the block, the likely next mayor.

Coscia did what any bright boy would do. The council had already approved his $43 million courthouse and got funding arranged.

There was no looking back. Rotella was part of the old. Dyster was part of the new.

Coscia secretly shifted to supporting Dyster for mayor, even going so far, according to one campaign staffer on Rotella’s staff, to plant a spy in Rotella’s camp so he could report to Dyster his opponent’s every move.

Dyster wanted Coscia to hold off breaking ground on the courthouse until after the election. Rotella wanted the groundbreaking before the primary so he could take credit.

Coscia wisely went with Dyster. When he found out, Rotella was furious with Coscia.

But it was too late to rescind the courthouse deal.

When Dyster won, Coscia and Ciminelli started building the courthouse – without supervision. That’s because Dyster fired the city engineer, Bob Curtis, who had promised to be a watchdog, keeping a sharp eye on those sharpies Gary Coscia and Lou Ciminelli.

By firing the city engineer, Dyster actually arranged for the fox to watch the henhouse; the contractors themselves supervised the construction of the courthouse for the city.

And lo and behold, Coscia and Ciminelli came in with more than 200 change orders that bumped the price to $48 million while cutting the materials’ costs by millions.

With Gary Coscia looking out for the city, with the help of three councilmen, he built what is believed to be the most expensive per square courthouse in the USA at nearly $500 per square foot — and about half of the exorbitant cost appears to be pure profit for the very deserving contractor.

That may be why the courthouse has had problems since the day it was built – cheap materials and no city engineer supervision during construction.

Ironically, the bond the city had to float, and the high maintenance costs of the overpriced, poorly built courthouse, costs city taxpayers $500,000 per year to maintain.

So where does Mazirz fit in?

Back in the day Maziarz condemned the courthouse deal as a scandal.  He told the Reporter that it was “a $22 million building, we paid $50 million for.”

Then Coscia hired Maziarz, and suddenly Maziarz had nothing but good to say about Coscia.

I contacted Maziarz after he went to work for the man he previously said had in effect swindled the city out of $25 million, to ask him about his inconsistency.  Maziarz declined to answer.

Since we have been publishing the odd coupling of Coscia and Maziarz, Coscia has been telling anyone who would listen that the Reporter is writing about him only because of his employing Maziarz.

People who know Coscia knew that spelled trouble for Maziarz. And now strangely enough, the Largo website, which used to feature a page for George Maziarz has been removed.

And Maziarz does not appear on the Largo page for their team.

It looks like Coscia pulled a Rotella on George Maziarz.

In our next in the series we will show how Maziarz operated with Coscia, after teaming up with the wily mortgage broker, and with a little info on how Maziarz would secretly record people he spoke with on the phone.

Gary Coscia had a swimmingly good time in Niagara Falls — at taxpayer expense of course. Stay tuned for more on the courthouse scandal

Leave a Reply

Scroll Up.wpzoom (color:black;}