That time Poloncarz appointed ‘patronage hack’ to supervise CPS, following brazen fraud scheme

The recent sentencing of the Poloncarz administration's former Social Services Commissioner, Al Dirschberger, for raping an employee while on duty, has raised questions about Poloncarz's hiring decisions -- and more broadly, about the politicos who surround him.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz‘ appointment of a well-traveled patronage hack as a supervisor in Child Protective Services, (Buffalo News) brought back memories of an interesting Democratic Plumbers scheme from 2006.   That caper involved the efforts of then-County Legislator, now Poloncarz’ Deputy County Executive, Maria Whyte, Deputy County Attorney Jeremy Toth, Buffalo attorney and currently jailed political operative Marc Panepinto, now CPS supervisor, then county legislature employee, Brian Bray, and then county legislature employee, now state Assemblyman, Sean Ryan.

These intrepid party reformers ran a slate of Democratic Committeemen against incumbents allied with North District Councilmember, Joe Golombek,  in apparent retaliation for Golombek challenging their pal, then state Assemblyman, now Empire State Development Regional President, Sam Hoyt, in the 2004 Assembly Democratic Primary contest.  (These liberal talkers can be very vindictive.)

For years, Assemblyman Sam Hoyt was seen as the ‘political godfather’ of the West Side political faction that has since risen to considerable power in Erie County.  His cabal of political compatriots spearheaded a staggering effort to remove Councilman Joe Golombek, a longtime Hoyt adversary and contender for his Assembly seat.

While it’s OK for anyone to run for the committee, you only get to run in one election district (ED) at a time.    In 2006, Whyte was running in nine EDs, Panepinto in five, Toth in three and Bray in two.

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Since 1974, simultaneously running for two inconsistent elected positions is per se voter fraud.   See Lufty v Gangemi, 35 N.Y.2d 179 (1974):

“Since this multiplicity of inconsistent candidacies has been properly recognized as injurious to the rights of the electorate, and described as fraudulent and deceptive, and because here the multiplicity of inconsistent candidacies for the County Committee was intentional, the dissenters at the Appellate Division were correct in concluding that respondents’ designating petitions should fail entirely.

With this practice, and absent acceptable excuse or justification, the voters who signed the offending petitions must be assumed to have been misled as to the candidates’ intentions to serve as their representatives if designated and subsequently elected at the primary. Moreover, the petitions were misleading in suggesting that the various candidates listed intended to run together. These irregularities were also harmful because those who signed were precluded by law from signing petitions for other candidates for the same office (Election Law, § 136, subd.).  Thus, the petitions must be considered to have been permeated with the defect intentionally introduced into them by the circulators and those candidates who participated in the circulation.”

In 2006, the clear intent was to have Whyte resign in eight of her races, Panepinto in four, etc., so that the committee on vacancies (Toth, Panepinto, Bray and Ryan) could appoint other, as yet unknown, persons who would actually be the candidates on election day.

Some political observers want Maria Whyte, now the Deputy County Executive, to explain what motivated the voter fraud scheme.  They suspect that Whyte was acting as a political pawn of senior figures in the Democratic Party who were close to then-candidate for Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.  His office declined to prosecute the matter.

Thus voters could have been induced to sign a designating petition for Whyte or one of her pals without knowing the identity of the actual intended candidates.   The scheme was replete with fill-in-the-blank forms which were to be used for petitions, declinations, replacements by the committee on vacancies, and acceptances of candidacy by the replacements.

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Soon after filing the petitions, Whyte promptly declined in eight of the EDs where she was running.    The declinations were all executed on the same day and notarized by Marc Panepinto.

This was a mass production effort of little subtlety.   When the plot was exposed, Golombek held a press conference in front of the Erie County Board of Elections where he was met by a large gang of Whyte supporters, including numerous county legislature employees.

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Leading the charge were  Assemblyman Hoyt, and Panepinto’s attorney wife, now Supreme Court judge, Catherine Nugent-Panepinto, who both vehemently and vociferously defended this effort to deceive voters. When suit was threatened, Whyte and the gang folded like a deck of cards.   Whyte declined to run in eight EDs and the vacancies went unfilled.

Former State Senator Marc Panepinto was a key player in the voter fraud scheme.  He is currently jailed, serving a 90-day sentence on an unrelated public corruption matter.

It is fun to see the other players involved.  Michelle Marto, union heavyweight and wife of John Maggiore, assistant to Governor Andrew Cuomo, passed a petition.   Jennifer Hibit, executive assistant to County Executive Mark Poloncarz was a co-candidate with Whyte on one of the fake petitions.   Mark D. Cornell, another Poloncarz staffer, passed fake petitions in two different EDs.

John Maggiore is among Governor Andrew Cuomo’s most influential political advisors.  His wife, Michelle Marto, was implicated in the elaborate voter fraud scheme.

With this type of background, who can doubt that Brian Bray’s history demonstrates his manifest qualifications to supervise case workers in their efforts to save children’s lives at CPS?      

Notice how well all of these folks are eating at the public trough?    Why is it that people like me who put hundreds of hours into stopping this kind of crap always end up shivering in the dark, old, tired, sick, cold, and hungry?

Wonder if I will get my reward when Satan calls me home?





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