U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX: (716) 551-3051
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that James Mazzariello, Jr., 62, and his son, Adam Mazzariello, 37, both of Alden, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara to conspiring to pay bribes to City of Buffalo police officers. James Mazzariello, Jr. also pleaded guilty plea to making and subscribing a false tax return. The defendants face a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both.
“In all public corruption cases, our goal is to identify those public officials who violate the trust of the people,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “As prosecutors, however, we are constrained by the evidence that we are able to gather. Here, that evidence culminated in today’s pleas. We will continue, along with the FBI, Buffalo Police and NYS, our efforts to identify and bring to justice any police officer who may have accepted illegal bribes. Since sunlight is the best disinfectant, we expect that this case will clean up the way towing services are provided in the City of Buffalo.”
“The facts of this case are the reason the FBI’s public corruption program exists,” said Adam S. Cohen, Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Buffalo Division. “There were accusations that tow truck operators were offering bribes to public officials, in this instance police officers. Not only did the Mazzariello’s engage in this corrupt activity in their regular course of business, but they then went on to profit significantly as a result of those bribes.”
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Russell T. Ippolito, Jr., and Maura K. O’Donnell, who are handling the prosecution, stated that James Mazzariello, Jr. owned and operated Jim Mazz Auto, Inc. (“Jim Mazz Auto”) and National Towing, Inc. (“National Towing”). The companies were involved in all aspects of the automobile towing and repair business, including collision repair work, mechanical repair work, towing and storage work, and the sale of used automobiles. Adam Mazzariello supervised the towing services aspect of his father’s businesses.
Between January 2009 and May 2012, Jim Mazz Auto tow truck operators, at the direction of the defendants, made bribe payments to certain City of Buffalo police officers for their assistance in enabling the drivers to tow motor vehicles damaged in accidents in the City of Buffalo. The tow truck operators made these bribe payments from their own personal funds and were then reimbursed by the defendants. James Mazzariello, Jr. and Adam Mazzariello also directed and authorized others to make reimbursement payments to tow truck operators for bribe payments.
The investigation examined and substantiated 19 different bribe payments made by Jim Mazz Auto tow truck operators to City of Buffalo Police Officers. Approximately $500 in payments were made to City of Buffalo police officers while the gross revenue Jim Mazz Auto derived from making such bribe payments totaled $43,022.74. The gross revenue consisted of payments made to Jim Mazz Auto for towing, as well as for mechanical and collision repair work.
In addition, James Mazzariello, Jr. filed false corporate tax returns and individual tax returns for tax years 2009 and 2010. He also significantly underreported the total amount of gross revenue for his business in order to pay less in federal taxes. The total tax loss was $125,311.
The pleas are the culmination of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Adam S. Cohen; the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, under the direction of James D. Robnett, Special Agent-in-Charge, New York Field Office; the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles’ Division of Field Investigation, under the direction of Owen McShane, Director of Investigations; the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Criminal Investigations Division, under the direction of Upstate Chief of Investigations Pat Simet; the New York State Department of Financial Services Criminal Investigations Unit, under the direction of Director Frank Orlando; and the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Daniel Derenda.
The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on August 24, 2017 at 12:30 p.m. in front of Judge Arcara.