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Judge sentenced for accepting bribes

Sentence is 16 months in jail

A former New York State Supreme Court justice has been sentenced to prison for bribery.

John A. Michalek, 71, was sentenced by acting state Supreme Court Justice Donald F. Cerio Jr. to one year in jail for receiving a bribe and four months in jail on an offering a false instrument charge.

Michalek will serve the sentences consecutively, in addition to a $5,000 fine.

On June 30, 2016, Michalek pleaded guilty to two felonies, including third-degree bribe receiving, a class D felony, and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, a class E felony.

The charges are related to bribes received from Pigeon, and for filing a false document with the New York State Office of Court Administration when he appointed a receiver who was chosen by Pigeon.

After pleading guilty, Michalek resigned from his judicial post and was disbarred from practicing law.

Between February 2012 and April 2015, Michalek and Pigeon exchanged emails and text messages which revealed Pigeon was bribing Michalek to influence judicial decisions.

Messages showed that Pigeon helped Michalek secure employment and official appointments for two of his family members, gave Michalek free tickets to Buffalo Sabres hockey games, and gave Michalek’s family a ticket to a $1,000 political fundraiser.

The messages also showed that Pigeon helped Michalek secure a judicial appointment to the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court.

Pigeon and Michalek also discussed multiple pending lawsuits over which Michalek presided. Michalek shared privileged and non-public information with Pigeon so that he could provide input and advice on the cases.

In one case, Michalek appointed an attorney chosen by Pigeon to a receivership. Pigeon’s choice was not on the court-issued list of receivers. In order to appoint the person, Michalek filed a document with the state Office of Court Administration in which he falsely claimed he needed that specific attorney’s expertise in handling the receivership.