Swanick a co-conspirator in illegal plan to give $3 Million no-bid contract to future felon

From a story that appeared on WGRZ on April 7, 2005:

On December 8th of last year, when county legislators were racing to finish a budget before midnight, Legislator Chuck Swanick held up that sheet of paper titled “Amendment E.” Minutes later, it was added to the budget at the last minute. The amendment names a specific company from New Orleans, “Community Based Corrections,” and authorizes the county executive to enter into a three-million-dollar contract with them.

BUFFALO, NY – When Chuck Swanick presented Amendment E at the last second to the 2005 Budget, Legislators were not given a moment to review the item. When asked what the item was, Swanick replied, it’s… it’s nothing.”

Over the weeks and months ahead, residents learned that “Amendment E” was for a $3 million no-bid contract to an inexperienced, politically-active New Orleans firm for electronic monitoring for criminal defendants. The amendment was a shrewd attempt to bypass the County’s standard competitive bidding process to give an out-of-town firm several million dollars to implement an untested voice verification system.

Although no arrests were made, the FBI investigated the controversial amendment and a Grand Jury was called to hear testimony. Burnell Moliere, the primary member of Community Based Corrections, LLC (CBC), who would later go on to be convicted for his role in a bribery scheme involving a New Orleans school board official. The County Legislator who advocated for the no-bid contract and received campaign contributions from Moliere, George Holt, vacated his Legislature seat in 2007 when he plead guilty to tax fraud.
Chuck Swanick, the Legislator that moved to have Amendment E added to the 2005 County Budget, is now trying to make a political comeback after retiring from the County Legislature shortly after the CBC controversy came to light. His opponent in the race for State Senate, attorney Mike Amodeo, has vowed to make Swanick’s role in this a campaign issue.

“Just minutes after voting to raise our sales tax by a penny, Chuck Swanick tried to give away $3 Million of our tax dollars in a no-bid contract to provide a criminal monitoring service the County Sheriff’s office neither needed nor requested,” said Amodeo. “The fact that this company’s owner was later convicted for his role in a bribery scheme begs the question of why did Holt and Swanick conspire to give them this contract. The poor judgement shown by Swanick here should disqualify him from receiving the public’s trust ever again.”

Endorsed Democrat Mike Amodeo faces off against former Republican Chuck Swanick on Thursday, September 13.

“AMENDMENT E” TEXT

WHEREAS, Community Based Corrections, LLC (CDC) will provide case monitoring and case management services for certain categories of a low-risk target population of defendants, reporting and related services at an approximate savings to the County of $16,000,000 over the course of one year based upon the management of an average of 500 cases per day, at an approximate cost to the County of $3,000,000.

RESOLVED, that the County Executive is hereby authorized, subject to the approval of the County Legislature, to enter into a contract with Community Based Corrections, LLC for the purpose of instituting an alternative to incarceration program to reduce the cost of managing and supervising low-risk defendants and which will better serve the County’s economic interests.

RESOLVED, funding for this program will be covered by funds appropriated for the Erie County Probation Department, the Erie County Holding Center and the Erie County Correctional Facility.