Buffalo man pleads guilty in towing scandal

BUFFALO, NY -- Today, Christopher Mahoney, 30, pleaded guilty to conspiring to pay bribes to City of Buffalo police officers. The charges carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both.

"Today's conviction for bribery exposes a 'pay to play' scheme in the Buffalo towing service industry," said U.S. Attorney Hochul. "As admitted by this defendant, certain police officers were paid in exchange for notification and call-out to motor vehicle accident scenes. This Office will bring to justice those who would corrupt a branch of government or seek to create an uneven playing field through payment of bribes."

Mahoney admitted that between January 2009 and May 2012, Jim Mazz Auto tow truck operators, at the direction of owner James Mazzariello, Jr. and his son Adam Mazzariello, made payments to certain City of Buffalo police officers for their assistance in enabling Jim Mazz tow truck operators to tow motor vehicles damaged in accidents in the City of Buffalo. The tow truck operators made these bribe payments from their own personal funds and subsequently sought reimbursement from Mazzariello, Jr., his son and Christopher Mahoney. Mazzariello, Jr. directed and authorized Mahoney to make reimbursement payments to the tow truck operators. Mahoney made reimbursement payments to tow truck operators on a regular basis and often times used cash from the Jim Mazz Auto cash drawer to make such payments.

While the plea agreement does not specify the exact number of bribe payments made by the tow truck operators to Buffalo Police Officers, the government, through its investigation and prior to the time defendant Mahoney expressed a desire to plead guilty, substantiated and examined, in detail, 19 different bribe payments made by tow truck operators. Approximately $500 in payments were made to Buffalo police officers by tow truck operators for access to the tows of the 19 accidents examined.

Mazzariello, Jr. and his son Adam are indicted for conspiring to pay bribes to City of Buffalo police officers. Mazzariello, Jr. is also charged with filing false corporate tax returns and false personal tax returns for calendar years 2009 and 2010.

Mahoney is scheduled to be sentenced on October 20, 2014 at 1:00 p.m.


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