Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw withheld knowledge of theft from his recently-issued review of Erie County Legislature expenditures, in order to protect his recently-hired Chief of Staff, Mr. Bryan Fiume, who was a former Chief of Staff of the GOP-aligned Minority Caucus at the Erie County Legislature from January 2010 until December 2013 (for nearly four (4) years).

Mr. Mychajliw withheld from his 5-year Comptroller Review of Legislature Expenditures the fact that former Legislature Minority Chief of Staff Bryan Fiume has been scamming Erie County taxpayers for nearly four (4) years by somehow gaining access to a taxpayer-paid Erie County smart phone, without ever telling the former Democratic administration at the Legislature.

Again, Mr. Fiume worked at the Legislature as Minority Chief of Staff, having been hired in January 2010.  Mr. Fiume moved over to the Legislature from County Executive Chris Collins’ office that January, and Mr. Fiume remained as the Minority Chief of Staff until late December 2013, when Mr. Mychajliw hired Mr. Fiume as his new Chief of Staff in the Comptroller’s Office – a top position in Mr. Mychajliw’s office.

Just fifteen (15) days prior to the release of the Comptroller’s Legislature Expenditures’ Review, the Comptroller released a review of the Department of Information and Support Services’ (DISS) use and control of wireless devices (please see attachment, and Appendix II, page 14).  The review was clocked into the public record of the Legislature on April 15, 2014.

The Wireless Devices’ review disclosed that Mr. Fiume had a County-issued smart phone during the review period.  Legislature Democrats believe Mr. Fiume most likely had the smart phone from the time Mr. Fiume left Mr. Collins’ office in January 2010, until the day he left the Legislature in December 2013.

Indeed, a communication from DISS submitted to the Legislature following the Wireless Devices’ Review (please see attachment; last paragraph on page 2 and continued on page 3) indicated that Mr. Fiume did surrender the smart phone in late December 2013.  It is also highly likely that Mr. Fiume came to the Legislature from Mr. Collins’ office with the smart phone.  This would amount to nearly four (4) years with possession of a taxpayer-paid smart phone – which is prohibited for anyone employed at the Erie County Legislature.  It is further against Erie County policy.  And it amounts to theft.

Additionally, the disclosure that a Legislature staffer would have a prohibited smart phone clearly falls within Legislature Chair John J. Mills’ request to weed out “wasteful spending,” as outlined by Chairman Mills’ letter to the Comptroller in seeking the Legislature review.  This clear theft of public tax dollars also falls within the time period requested for review by Chairman Mills.  Indeed, Mr. Fiume had the smart phone for four (4) of the five (5) years that Chairman Mills requested in his review period.

And, that while Mr. Mychajliw knew about this clear “wasteful spending” by his top assistant Mr. Fiume in Mr. Mychajliw’s Wireless Devices’ Review of fifteen (15) days prior, Mr. Mychajliw chose not to include this theft in the Legislature review.

Therefore, Democrats want to know why Mr. Mychajliw withheld this from the Legislature Review.  Further, why did Mr. Fiume not surrender the smart phone when Mr. Collins left office on December 31, 2011, instead of late in December 2013 when Mr. Fiume went to work for Mr. Mychajliw?

The Democratic Minority Caucus will also be asking why the Legislature had no notification whatsoever that a Legislature employee had (and hid) possession of a Erie County smart phone that did not appear in any budget documents that are routinely available.

Democrats want to know how Mr. Fiume gained access to an Erie County smart phone as a low-level Legislature staffer (he had no authority whatsoever), and when the same is against long-standing Legislature policy (attached).

Accordingly, Legislator Betty Jean Grant has filed a FOIL request with DISS (attached) to get to the bottom of this matter.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Democratic Minority Leader Betty Jean Grant directly on her cellular telephone at 716/602-5877.  Or, you can contact Kevin Kirwan of the Democratic Minority Staff at County Hall, by calling716/858-8410 with any questions.