BUFFALO (WBFO) - Longtime local political operative G. Steven Pigeon, who is charged in two separate state cases, now faces a federal complaint. According to a criminal complaint unsealed Monday, Pigeon is accused of trying to arrange a large contribution by a foreign national to what his attorney identified as Governor Cuomo's campaign.
Pigeon appeared in Federal Court in downtown Buffalo late Monday morning. About an hour later, Acting U.S. Attorney J.P. Kennedy detailed the complaint, which alleges Pigeon conspired to help a Canadian citizen make a $25,000 donation to a reelection campaign in New York State.
Kennedy identified the Canadian as a businessman who owns a Montreal-based online gambling company and who was hoping to gain influence in order to see such gaming legalized in New York State.
"In 2014, Mr. Pigeon together with representatives from this Canadian company also orchestrated a donation of $25,000, from the foreign national that ran that company to the reelection campaign for a candidate for state office," Kennedy said.
Kennedy would not identify the candidate but in the main lobby of the federal courthouse in downtown Buffalo, Pigeon's attorney Paul Cambria identified Governor Andrew Cuomo's campaign as the recipient of the donation.
Kennedy, at his news conference, stated that twice the campaign rejected offers of campaign dollars but accepted it the third time when provided by an attorney for the Canadian businessman. According to the federal complaint, that person is also a Canadian citizen but has been living in Florida with permanent legal U.S. residency.
Cambria insists his client did nothing illegal.
"Our investigation has demonstrated that the contribution was actually made by a Florida attorney, apparently on behalf of that person, and the Cuomo people were fully aware of it as was the Florida attorney," Cambria said.
Pigeon already faces charges of illegally funding three local campaigns and bribing a judge. At this time, he has not been indicted on this federal complaint. A conviction for this charge would result in up to five years in prison.
Cambria wonders why Pigeon is the only one seemingly targeted in this case.
"My only question is why my client is being singled out," Cambria said. "Others were fully aware of this."