B District Police Officers Focus Of Bribery Investigation | News
BUFFALO, NY- Last week's very public raid at Jim Mazz Auto on Bailey Avenue in the city looked like a convention of federal, city and state authorities.
Numerous FBI agents were there, along with the Internal Revenue Service, members of the Buffalo Police Department's Internal Affairs Division, as well as members of the state Tax Department and the state Department of Motor Vehicles.
Two different sources tell 2 On Your Side's Scott Brown that at least six police officers, the majority of whom work or did work in B District, which includes downtown Buffalo, are the focus of the investigation.
The officers allegedly took bribes from employees of Jim Mazz Auto to ensure that police at accident scenes would direct that Jim Mazz Auto tow trucks be given the tows over other tow truck operators.
Jim Mazz employees knew that if they got the tows, they then had a good chance to then get the lucrative collision repair work on the damaged cars at its body shop.
It appears this is a two pronged investigation:
- One part into the alleged bribe-taking by a number of Buffalo police officers.
- The other is how Jim Mazzariello, the owner of Jim Mazz Auto, operated his business.
That would explain why the IRS, and state agencies were part of last week's raid.
It's believed that Jim Mazz Auto is the only tow truck operator under investigation by law enforcement authorities.
Last week, following the raid, Mazzariello filed a notice of claim against the city, alleging that he was being retaliated against for bringing allegations of bribery in the towing business to the attention of the police department.
WEB EXTRA: Click here to read Mazz's complaint
Steve Cohen, Jim Mazz Auto attorney: "My guy's been out of that, he's been out of the whole bribery business for years."
Scott Brown: "Are you saying your client bribed Buffalo police officers in the past, but hasn't done it in a while?"
Steve Cohen: "I'm saying many years ago our tow truck drivers were put in the position by police officers that 'if you want to get this tow you better hand us a twenty dollar bill or a fifty dollar bill.'"
The Brown administration began the investigation more than a year ago, and were then joined by the FBI and other state and federal agencies.
Right now, only two tow truck companies are authorized to do city tows, one is Riverside Towing, the other South Buffalo Auto Parts.
As part of a new towing policy instituted by the city in the wake of the towing scandal, the two companies rotate handling calls from the city every other week.