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DA investigation finds no criminal violations by ECWA

Submitted

Wed, Jun 27th 2018 09:00 pm
Following the release of the New York State Authorities Budget Office (ABO) report, the Erie County district attorney's office immediately conducted an investigation into the Erie County Water Authority (ECWA) to determine if any criminal violations had occurred.
The ABO review was concerned with the governance, transparency and management of the ECWA. The report noted no criminal issues, but made recommendations to improve transparency based upon its findings. The ABO indicated that, if suspicion of criminal activity had been discovered during the course of the investigation, the DA's office would have been notified immediately.
The investigation conducted by the DA's office following the release of the report was intended to ensure no criminal activity occurred.
An organization's failure to respond to a Freedom of Information Law requests is not a criminal matter. The remedy for anyone being denied a FOIL request is an Article 78 proceeding, which is a civil proceeding.
The chief of the DA's special investigations and prosecutions (SIP) bureau reviewed the FOIL requests noted in the ABO report. An explanation as to why the FOIL requests were denied, or not responded to, has been made. None of the denials noted in the report appear to be an attempt to cover up any criminal activity.
This office also investigated issues that may have appeared to go beyond public law violations, in particular, possible violations of offering a false instrument for filing. The 2015 and 2016 reports that were filed claimed board members signed their acknowledgement of fiduciary duty.
The office found no intent by the ECWA to intentionally falsify the reports. The submission was performed by a staff member after the board authorized the submission without detailed review.
The report concluded the investigation by the DA's office was not a financial audit and the decisions made by the ECWA may have been ill advised, but no criminal activity has been developed.

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