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A.G. Schneiderman And NYS Board Of Elections Chief Enforcement Counsel Sugarman Announce Guilty Plea Of Erie County Political Operative For Violating Campaign Finance Laws

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 25, 2017

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A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN AND NYS BOARD OF ELECTIONS CHIEF ENFORCEMENT COUNSEL SUGARMAN ANNOUNCE GUILTY PLEA OF ERIE COUNTY POLITICAL OPERATIVE FOR VIOLATING CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAWS 

Frank Max Guilty Of Filing False Campaign Disclosure Report, Violating Election Law Reporting Requirements 

Schneiderman: Campaign Finance Laws Exist To Protect Voters And Keep Our Democratic Process Honest – And We’ll Hold Accountable Those Who Fail To Obey The Law 

ALBANY – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and New York State Board of Elections Chief Enforcement Counsel Risa Sugarman today announced the guilty plea of Frank C. Max, Jr., 64, a long-time Democratic political operative in Cheektowaga, New York, on charges that he filed a false campaign finance disclosure report and filed another campaign finance disclosure report which also failed to conform to the Election Law reporting requirements with the New York State Board of Elections.

Max entered a guilty plea today before the Hon. Joshua Farrell in Albany City Court, Criminal Part, to two class A misdemeanors, including Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the Second Degree, in violation of Penal Law section 175.30, and one count of Knowingly and Willfully Filing a False Campaign Finance Disclosure Report, in violation of Election Law 14-126(4). He was charged after an investigation revealed Max’s failures to truthfully disclose to the New York State Board of Elections the financial activity of the Progressive Democrats of Western New York, a Political Action Committee Max both founded and served as treasurer of since its inception.

“Campaign finance laws exist for a reason-to protect voters and keep our democratic process honest and transparent,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “When well-connected political operatives fail to make proper disclosures, it creates widespread distrust in the system as a whole. Today’s plea sends the message that political committees, treasurers and candidates will be held accountable if they fail to obey the law.”

The maximum penalty for each count is up to one year in jail for each count. Sentencing is scheduled for May 5, 2017 at 2:00 p.m.

Under the Election Law, political committees and candidates are required to file periodic financial disclosure reports accurately disclosing their expenditures and contributions in order to maintain transparency in the election process.  According to documents filed in Court and Max’s guilty plea, Max failed to provide accurate information on two Campaign Finance Disclosure Reports. The inaccurate information included falsely claiming that donations received by the Progressive Democrats of Western New York in amounts over $99, which should have been itemized, were less than $99, thereby circumventing the reporting requirements. In addition, a $900 donation was reported as $400. Finally, corporate donations were not properly noted. This is particularly significant because corporations are subject to strict limitations on the amount of total annual contributions they can make to political candidates.

“Campaign finance disclosure ensures New Yorkers have confidence and transparency in the electoral process,” said Risa Sugarman, Chief Enforcement Counsel for the New York State Board of Elections. “The public has the right to know who contributes to political committees and how the money is spent. We will continue to work together with our law enforcement partners, including the Attorney General, to assure New Yorkers that violations of the public trust do not go unpunished.”

Assistant Attorney General Susan H. Sadinsky of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau and Assistant Attorney General Diane M. LaVallee of the Attorney General’s Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau are prosecuting this case with assistance from Senior Analyst Robert Vanwey under the supervision of Public Integrity Bureau Chief Daniel G. Cort and Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz.

The investigation was handled by Supervising Investigator Richard Doyle and Investigator Brian G. Ross of the Investigations Bureau. The Attorney General’s Investigation Bureau is led by Chief Investigator Dominick Zarrella, who is assisted by Deputy Chief Antoine Karam.

The investigation was conducted with the assistance and cooperation with Acting United States Attorney General, James P. Kennedy, Jr. and Assistant United States Attorney General Joseph Guerra, Chief, Criminal Division of the United States Attorney’s Office of the Western District of New York, Senior Investigator Christopher Weber of the New York State Police and Senior Agent Brian Burns and Agent Luke Humphrey of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.