Councilwoman Diane Benczkowski, who is widely expected to be the Town of Cheektowaga’s next Supervisor, is pleased that the Attorney General has dismissed allegations made by Frank Max against Mark Wegner, the town’s Highway Superintendent.
The Town received notification of the lack of findings from the Attorney General’s Division of Criminal Justice Public Integrity Bureau. The Town had forwarded the office an investigation of the Town’s Highway Department on February 11, 2015.
Max, the former Democrat chairman of Cheektowaga was ousted last year by Wegner, who is the current town chairman. Max made allegations that improprieties inside the department represented a culture of municipal corruption — particularly relating to the misuse of employee time.
The announcement comes as a major win for Wegner, who is seeking reelection as Highway Superintendent this year. Wegner is a well liked figure in Cheektowaga. Max’s brutal and relentless political attacks against him — at a time when he has been struggling with the loss of his 21 year old son less than a year ago — has made him a deeply sympathetic figure in town politics.
Wegner is going through a difficult divorce and is selling his family owned bar. I’m told that the loss of his son was a crushing experience for him and his wife, which of course is entirely understandable.
At the same time, Max has been launching scathing personal attacks against him, which have been largely unsubstantiated. Max has become “loathed and detested” for his tactics by many in the town’s political circles. He is seen as a brutal old-school politician hell bent on control of patronage jobs at the town, most of which are occupied by friends and family of Max.
Benczkowski’s full statement, circulated to media outlets this morning:
I am pleased to see that the Attorney General found no violation of the law and further investigation by the Public Integrity Bureau of the Division of Criminal Justice has determined that the complaint forwarded by Phillips Lytle does not warrant action by the Attorney General.
I warned the Town Board that this political witch hunt was a waste of taxpayer money, however Town Supervisor Mary Holtz, Deputy Supervisor Jerry Kaminski, and Councilman Jim Rogowski, along with their ally the former Town Democratic Chairman Frank Max, spearheaded a spurious investigation to carry out the character assignation suggested to them.
The town wasted approximately $100,000 raising much ado about nothing and then recently passed new resolutions to cover areas that they claimed were criminal.
I promise to the residents of Cheektowaga that I am not going to vote yes on anymore waste of taxpayers’ dollars and that I will explode any future spurious political witch hunts that the Cheektowaga Town Board tries to, under the veil of secrecy, call a legitimate investigation.
Holtz has since announced her intention to retire, and observers expect Benczkowski to have only token opposition in seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination later this year.