Former Niagara Falls Building Commissioner Pleads Guilty to Corruption Charge
|U.S. Attorney’s Office January 22, 2013|
BUFFALO, NY—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Guy A. Bax, 66, of Niagara Falls, New York, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara to corruptly accepting gratuities in connection with his role as the building commissioner for the city of Niagara Falls. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both.
First Assistant U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr., who is handling the case, stated that between 2007 and early 2009, the defendant, in his capacity as acting building commissioner for the city of Niagara Falls, routinely recommended and promoted John Gross and his company, David Gross Contracting, to individuals and entities seeking permits and approvals from the city. Bax also created a perception that it would be in the best interest of those seeking permits from the city to use Gross and his company, and, if they did so, they would have an easier time obtaining the approvals they sought. In exchange for and as a reward for Bax’s practice of steering business to John Gross and David Gross Contracting, the defendant received, at no cost, various items of value from John Gross and David Gross Contracting. The items included home repairs and maintenance services at Bax’s personal residence, such as the remodeling of his bathroom and plowing of his driveway, an expenses-paid trip, free golf outings, and other benefits.
“As we have said in the past, this office intends to root out public corruption wherever it occurs,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “Every person or business is entitled to a level playing field when it comes to dealings with government officials. Public employees, for their part, may not illegally or personally benefit from their position. While instances of public corruption are fortunately rare in Western New York, such will be treated firmly and decisively when they come to our attention.”
John Gross was sentenced to 33 months in prison in January 2012 for mail fraud and filing a false tax return.
The plea is the culmination of an investigation on the part of special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Christopher M. Piehota, Special Agent in Charge, Buffalo, Division; and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, under the direction of Toni Weinrauch, Special Agent in Charge.
Sentencing is scheduled for May 10, 2013, at 12:30 p.m. before Judge Arcara.