Henry Wojtaszek Cleared of Any Wrongdoing Despite Maziarz’s Repeated Attacks

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President and CEO of Western Regional OTB and Batavia Downs Gaming, Henry Wojtaszek (left) and Former New York State Senator George Maziarz (right)

 

By: Frank Parlato

An investigation led by a special prosecutor appointed to investigate former Niagara County Republican Chairman Henry Wojtaszek has resulted in his exoneration.

It is another chapter in the longstanding vendetta of former State Senator George D. Maziarz against his former friend and ally, Wojtaszek, that has seen several attempts to attack him politically and legally.

This one has also failed.

Wojtaszek is president of the Western Region Off Track Betting and is a lawyer.

Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley said she found no basis for prosecuting Wojtaszek over claims brought by Maziarz.

In 2019, Maziarz accused Wojtaszek of engaging in a bid-rigging scheme to help Four Points Communications win a Niagara County grant-writing contract in 2012.

Maziarz claimed that 2016 FBI notes of an interview with Michael J. Norris, a former Niagara County Republican chairman –who was elected to the Assembly later that year – also one of Maziarz’s enemies —  reveals that Norris told FBI agents about the process of hiring a new grant writing firm for Niagara County. Norris statements suggest that the bid was rigged in favor of Four Points.

Maziarz obtained the FBI notes in discovery in his own criminal case.

Wojtaszek, as a lawyer, later worked for Four Points, earning fees of about $50,000 for reviewing grant applications, contacting state officials about the availability of grants, and attending meetings at Four Points’ offices. All of these were within the scope of his work as an attorney and consultant.

But Maziarz, adding his own spin to the matter, claimed that Wojtaszek improperly pressured county officials in 2014 to deliver the grant writing contract to Four Points.

The DA disagreed.

In a letter that DA Doorley wrote to Stephan Sercu, Wojtaszek’s attorney, she wrote, “After having issued numerous subpoenas and having conducted multiple interviews, and after a thorough review of same, I have concluded that there is no criminal impropriety in relation to Four Points Communications or your client, either for the bid process or the financial dealings of the company.”

Doorley was appointed special prosecutor by Justice Paula L. Feroleto, administrative judge of the Eighth Judicial District of State Supreme Court, because Wojtaszek’s wife –Caroline – is the Niagara County district attorney and could not investigate a case involving her husband.

The owner of Four Points also denied Wojtaszek improperly helped him win the contract.

Tom Lewis, who owned the company at the time, told this newspaper he responded to an RFP in late 2011 or early 2012, was interviewed by a panel that included Niagara County Manager Jeff Glatz, and was properly awarded the contract in April of 2012.

“That was it,” said Lewis, touting his successes for the county. “I was the sole proprietor, did about 12 grants and won six grants… we were extremely successful, winning about $2 million in grants during that period.”

The firm was later headed by Melinda Boesken, Wojtaszek’s former law secretary. Boeskin owned the company in 2014-15 when Wojtaszek served as a legal adviser.

Maziarz Indicted

Maziarz himself was indicted in 2017 on five felony counts connected to Republican campaigns in Niagara County. The case against him was brought by another of his political enemies, former NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who resigned in disgrace in 2018 after being accused by several women of physical assault.

According to sources, law enforcement became especially interested in Maziarz after he, while knowing he was under investigation for corruption, allegedly ordered his staffers to shred documents in his office.

In response to a subpoena requiring him to appear, Wojtaszek testified before a grand jury convened to hear evidence on the public corruption case against Maziarz.

According to Henry’s wife, DA Caroline Wojtaszek, “Maziarz was under pressure from a state ethics probe. Unbeknownst to anyone in his ‘inner circle,’ Maziarz had ordered his staff to burn and shred all his files.”

Just prior to trial, in 2018, prosecutors offered Maziarz a plea deal for a single campaign finance misdemeanor, of filing a false instrument in order to allow him to secretly pay a former staffer.

Maziarz accepted the plea deal and paid a $1,000 fine.

The Vendetta Starts

Ever since then, Maziarz has sought to attack everyone he felt was connected to his legal woes, starting with Norris and Wojtaszek.

Prior to Maziarz’s criminal complaint against Wojtaszek in the Four Points matter, he filed a complaint against Wojtaszek with the State Bar Association’s Grievance Committee attempting to get Wojtaszek disbarred.

That also failed. The Bar Association dismissed the complaint.

Maziarz also pushed for an FBI investigation into Wojtaszek’s OTB operations, claiming wrongful spending and/or misuse of tickets to Buffalo Bills and Sabres games, an OTB-funded vehicle, a cell phone and health insurance coverage to board members.

In April of 2019, the FBI reportedly began to investigate potential improper spending and contracts given to firms with political connections to OTB executives.  No action has been taken to date and, according to sources close to the case, no wrongdoing was found.

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

The Maziarz vendetta continued during this past primary season, when Caroline Wojtaszek chose to run for Niagara County Court judge.

Maziarz spent more than $20,000 during the primary campaign to defeat her.

Most of the money was spent on campaign mailers attacking her. Different mailers went to Democrats and Republican voters. The mailers sent to Democrats tried to paint Caroline Wojtaszek as a Republican. The Republican mailers tried to paint her as a Democrat.

Just before the primary, Maziarz sent a letter to numerous law enforcement officials, and leaked it to the Niagara Gazette, accusing Wojtaszek and his wife Caroline of various misdeeds and alleged crimes.

A frontpage story about Maziarz’s letter to law enforcement was published in the Niagara Gazette on July 3rd, 2020, entitled, “Maziarz letters target Wojtaszeks”

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

Maziarz did not provide evidence of actual crimes, but merely reiterated already investigated claims, suggesting that Wojtaszek got special treatment because, among other reasons, he is white.

It failed to be persuasive. 

Caroline won the Democrat and Republican primaries against her opponent, Michael Benedict, virtually assuring her of victory in November.

Wojtaszeks Comment on Maziarz

“George Maziarz has tried every way possible to destroy my family,” Caroline Wojtaszek said in a letter to the Niagara Gazette.

Henry Wojtaszek said in a statement released to the media, “It is both sad and pathetic that a former elected official with an ax to grind seems obsessed with attacking me and my family. He continues to make baseless and unsubstantiated claims about me and my family…. My family and I are hopeful that this decision [in the Four Points matter] represents the last time we need to defend ourselves against the bizarre accusations from this vengeful, disgraced and irrelevant politician.”

Maziarz also failed in 2018 to obtain a prosecution against two other enemies — his former senate aides that he claimed stole from his campaign account.

Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn was appointed to review Maziarz’s claims that more than $350,000 was stolen from Maziarz’ campaign fund by his aides.

Flynn determined in 2019 that he could not prosecute any crime connected with missing funds.

 

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