Democratic Lobbyist Pleads Guilty to Setting Up Illegal Donation

(CN) – Two weeks after pleading guilty in state court to having bribed a judge, a former Democratic lobbyist returned to court Tuesday to plead guilty to a federal charge involving New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

G. Steven Pigeon, 58, has been in the government’s crosshairs since 2015 when state and federal law enforcement raided his Buffalo penthouse. At the time Pigeon was working an attorney with the Rochester law firm Underberg & Kessler, but he previously served as chairman of the Erie County Democratic Committee from 1996 to 2002.

Pigeon admitted today that in 2014, as part of his lobbying work on behalf of an online gambling business, he encouraged the company’s Canadian chairman to make a $25,000 donation to Governor Cuomo’s re-election campaign.

When the campaign rejected the donation because foreign donations to state political campaigns are illegal, Pigeon and his CEO client found a work-around. Going through an employee of the company who was a permanent legal resident of the United States, Pigeon’s CEO client made the donation again on Feb. 24, 2014.

This $25,000 donation ensured that Pigeon and his client could attend a fundraising event for Cuomo in New York City on Feb. 26, 2014.

Though Pigeon’s plea announcement refers obliquely to “Person A” and “Public Official A,” The Buffalo News identified the client as David Baazov, founder and CEO of Montreal-based Amaya Gaming Group, and the politician as Governor Cuomo.

Pigeon pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard Arcara to an information charging him with conspiracy to cause a foreign donation in a state election in violation of federal law.

He faces up to 16 months in prison when he is sentenced on Jan. 25, 2019. In the state case, Supreme Court Justice Donald Cerio Jr. has agreed to sentence Pigeon to no more than a year in jail.

Pigeon pleaded guilty in the the state matter to having bribed former state Supreme Court Justice John Michalek, who resigned a 22-year stint on the bench after pleading guilty in 2016 to taking bribes.

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