BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Next Tuesday is Election Day. Out of all the local races, the Erie County Sheriff's race has had the most back and forth. Both Sheriff Tim Howard and his challenger Bernie Tolbert have aired attack ads. In tonight's Verify report, we are looking at the two biggest claims made by each candidate.
Claim 1 is made in an attack ad launched by Sheriff Tim Howard's campaign against Tolbert.
The ad claims: "He (Tolbert) was sued by women who worked for him in the NBA for sexual harassment, and more than once.”
I can VERIFY Bernie Tolbert was sued, along with the NBA, by a woman in 2008. While the initial complaint is not available online, several other court documents are.
The court documents do not help me verify whether Tolbert was sued for sexual harassment, but he said this in a video posted on his campaign Facebook page, “I was never, ever charged with sexual harassment. There was a lawsuit when I was at the NBA where a young woman claimed constructive dismissal."
I can VERIFY the lawsuit was settled in 2009.
I cannot VERIFY that Tolbert was sued more than once.
Claim 2 is made in an attack ad from the Tolbert campaign against Sheriff Howard.
The ad claims: "There's an on-going sexual harassment lawsuit against Howard, and his office, in federal court now."
I can VERIFY through court documents that an employee at the Erie County Holding Center, filed a lawsuit in 2011 against the Erie County Sheriff's Office alleging job discrimination based on her gender. The lawsuit also specifically names Howard as a defendant.
I can also VERIFY through court documents that the case is currently in mediation.
Claim 3 is made by the Howard campaign alleging Tolbert has never fought the heroin crisis.
Tolbert spent 13 years as the FBI's special agent in charge in Buffalo. I cannot VERIFY that he never fought the heroin crisis, but the cases he did address have not been made public.
Claim 4 in a Tolbert attack ad says there have been 22 deaths in 12 years in Erie County jails. It does not say what the time frame is or name a source, but in June when we last covered this topic, 2 On Your Side was unable to find an official count of the number of inmate deaths since Howard was first elected Sheriff in 2005.
So, we cannot VERIFY this claim.