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Buffalo man sentenced in towing scandal involving Buffalo police officers


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Christopher Mahoney, 34, who was convicted of conspiring to make payments and gratuities to City of Buffalo police officers, was sentenced to two years’ probation by U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Arcara.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Russell T. Ippolito, Jr., and Maura K. O’Donnell, who handled the prosecution, stated that James Mazzariello, Jr. owned and operated Jim Mazz Auto, Inc. and National Towing, Inc. The companies were involved in all aspects of the automobile towing and repair business, including collision repair work, mechanical repair work, towing and storage work, and the sale of used automobiles. Adam Mazzariello, the son of James Mazzariello, Jr., supervised the towing services aspect of the businesses. Christopher Mahoney served in a managerial capacity for each of the businesses.

Mahoney admitted that between January 2009 and May 2012, Jim Mazz Auto tow truck operators, at the direction of James Mazzariello, Jr. and 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 payments from their own personal funds and subsequently sought reimbursement from James Mazzariello, Jr., Adam Mazzariello and Christopher Mahoney. James Mazzariello, Jr. directed and authorized Christopher 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 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 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. The gross revenue Jim Mazz Auto derived from making such payments totaled $43,022.74. The gross revenue consisted of payments made to Jim Mazz Auto for towing, as well as for mechanical and collision repair work.

James Mazzariello, Jr. and Adam Mazzariello were previously convicted and sentenced to serve 12 months and six months respectively in federal prison.

The sentencing is the culmination of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Gary Loeffert; the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, under the direction of James D. Robnett, Special Agent-in-Charge, New York Field Office; the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles’ Division of Field Investigation, under the direction of Owen McShane, Director of Investigations; the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Criminal Investigations Division, under the direction of Deputy Commissioner John Harford; the New York State Department of Financial Services Criminal Investigations Unit, under the direction of Director Frank Orlando; and the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Byron Lockwood.

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