Artvoice: Buffalo's #1 Newsweekly
Home Blogs Web Features Calendar Listings Artvoice TV Real Estate Classifieds Contact

Syaed Ali: A Threat to the Mayor’s safety?

Last night Channel 7 News reported that Syaed Ali was detained, his house searched, and his possessions confiscated back in November because Mayor Byron Brown’s security team believed he posed a threat to the safety of the mayor and his family:

It was November of last year when Buffalo Police executed a search warrant at a home on Breckenridge Street. The man who lived there is Syaed Ali. He was detained and his computer, cell phone, and personal documents were taken.

It’s been months and now police are starting to open up and say why. “Let’s just say that there are some safety concerns regarding the mayor and his family,” said police spokesperson Mike DeGeorge.

Those safety concerns were detected by the mayor’s personal security detail and considered then and now to be very serious. “It was their professional opinion that this was potentially serious enough that they forwarded it to the Buffalo Police Department. The police department has taken it and they have been investigating the matter ever since,” said DeGeorge.

Back in January Ali told Eyewitness News he did nothing wrong, and believed the move by the police was a directed from Mayor Byron Brown because of a political dispute. “They said because he made the mayor really mad,” said Ali on January 17th.

It’s been months and Ali has not yet been charged. He has filed a claim against the City of Buffalo to get his belongings back. “I want my stuff back, and all the materials back. I want these people to go away,” said Ali in January.

But that might not happen. Police tell Eye Witness News Ali could soon be facing aggravated harassment and criminal impersonation charges. They have also sought the help of outside agencies and may seek federal charges. “Could charges be upgraded, could they be elevated depending on where the investigation goes, I think that’s possible,” said DeGeorge.

Buffalo Police also tell Eyewitness News they are investigating a separate incident involving the safety of Deputy Mayor Donna Brown.

That’s more than Buffalo Police have been willing to say so far: Up until now, the line has been that the BPD will not comment on ongoing investigations—but apparently that’s not a hard and fast rule.

As long as they’re opening up, I have some questions, and here’s a half dozen of them:

1. If Ali threatened the mayor, why is the charge looming over him misdemeanor aggravated harassment?

2. We’ve talked to both the FBI and the New York Dtate Attorney General’s office, and my impression is that Buffalo Police are not going to get any help on this case from those quarters. Maybe I’m wrong, but a representative of the NYSAG’s office told me yesterday about 12 times, “It’s not our case. It’s all Buffalo Police.” So with what outside agencies is the BPD working?

3. If the mayor’s security detail had enough information about a threat to believe it was creidble and to pinpoint the source of the threat, why didn’t they get an arrest warrant for Ali?

4. If Ali is guilty of sending harassing emails to the mayor—Ali denies that, of course—that still doesn’t explain why he was detained without being arrested, allegedly told he would be arrested if he asked to speak to a lawyer or a relative, and then allegedly told to shut up about the whole incident when he was released or face arrest and criminal charges. And it doesn’t explain why the BPD still has the possessions they confiscated—not just computer equipment, Ali says, but business records, checkbooks, credit cards, cash, deodorant—three months later.

5. A lot of the stuff that Ali says was taken from his house is not covered by the warrant requested by Buffalo Police Detective Anna Mydlarz and signed by City Court Judge Craig Hannah. And the warrant cited the wrong statute (though not by much‚ off by one section). Is that grounds for suppression? What evidence did police garner from that search?

6. Ali has said police asked him to confess that South District Councilmember Mickey Kearns, who is running against Brown for mayor this year, and State Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, with whom Brown has been feuding for the past four years, put him up to circulating salacious rumors about the mayor via anonymous email last summer.And that in retaliation the mayor seems to have sicced Buffalo Police on him to give him a good scare.

Let’s say that all of that is true. (I’m not saying I think it is all true, but for the sake of argument…) Let’s imagine there’s not a single fucking sympathetic character in this sordid tale. Doesn’t this then seem like a case of slander and bullying typical of Buffalo’s high-school playground politics, but escalated until it’s out of control?

It’s as if some kids playing with matches and gasoline accidentally set fire to the garage. Those damned kids are a threat to themselves.

Anyway, Ali is coming by here in about 15 minutes, so I’ll follow up with his comments.

  • WNYmind

    I am surprised the “F” word was used by Geoff Kelly in this blog. That is a new low for AV. I know people who post on this site are typically not censored, but I can recall a few times that posts were pulled down for less than and F-bomb. But, this is a little different, it is part of the post added by AV for discussion, and dropping F-bombs in the post sort of sets the tone for all us who reply. So, AV has opened up a new door that they may want to rethink. After all, what is next, throwing in a few N-bombs when criticizing the Mayor.

    Peace and civility my friends, let’s be a little more tasteful in the future.

  • It’s hardly a new low. We’ve dipped far lower. Nonetheless, I apologize for offending WNYMind’s sensibilities.

    However, two points, WNYMind: You do not correctly recall posts being “pulled down for less than and F-bomb.” And comparing the use of a swear word as an intensifier to “throwing in a few N-bombs when criticizing the Mayor” is an utterly false equivalency. That’s the sort of talk that has indeed led to posts being pulled in the past. We don’t tolerate it.

    Hear hear to peace and civility.

  • WNYmind

    Double standards. Typical of AV.

  • Citizen D

    It is amazing that Anna Mydlarz is on this case considering that she is having a house foreclosed on Fillmore Avenue, owes back taxes in the amount of $42,000+ and and owes credit card company(ies) money,(all public record) seems like she should have an investigation against her as her moral turpitude should be considered. Any time she is involved there seems to be something “not quite right”

  • Peter A Reese

    Is that the sound of butts being covered for a major police fiasco or just Mike DeGeorge justifying his job?

    Along with Stefan, Mike and Peter how many more spokespeople does the City have on the payroll? What is the increment in quality of life for the average nose picking citizen like me which accrues per dollar paid to these talking heads? Can any of them drive a snow plow? Anyone remember the good old days when high ranking government officials actually had to speak for themselves?

  • Mr.Justice

    Its a major police coverup

  • Christi

    Before it is an on going investigation, and no formal complaints by the mayor made, now his security detail spotted something. Lies half truths,and cover ups is what the Brown Administration is all about.

  • Peter A Reese

    If the Buffalo Police have a policy of not commenting on ongoing investigations, shouldn’t Mike DeGeorge be disciplined for insubordination and violation of department rules? Or is that just reserved for Dennis Delano?

  • Keith

    Excellant Point… It’s like any Law… ( It’s only a Law When they Want To Enforce it ) or Make Phoney Charges… Or for Some ( DON’T EVEN GET CHARGED WITH WHAT THEY ARE TO BE CHARGED WITH.) EVEN HAVE SOME DISMISSED FROM A SERIOUS CHARGE SUCH AS > Hit-N-Run with Injuries to a Disorderly Conduct Charge with out Notifiying Councel or the Victim of this…
    Instant Court Date 3 days after Accident allows charge to Disappear… With out the Judge ever REQUESTING to hear from the VICTIM,OR MAYBE NOBODY WANTED TO HEAR FROM THE VICTIM…

  • Dick Kern

    Jan 2009 9:10 am

    It is now over 12 weeks since police confiscated 10-12 garbage bags of Ali famiy possessions, including several thousands in cash & uncashed checks . . . .& his mother’s purse.

    Obviously most of the items taken were not covered in the search warrant, but they have not been returned.

    In the context of this incredible police caper, Byron Brown’s closing comments in his State of the City speech are troubling . . .

    From Bflo News:
    He ended his speech with an admonition.”And to those who try to impede our progress, we will not be turned back, we will not be stopped, we will not be discouraged in our mission to keep moving our great city forward,” he said.

    When a reporter later asked him if he was referring to specific people or groups, the mayor wouldn’t elaborate. (end quote)

    I have finally seen the anonymous “gay-sex” emails that “made the Mayor very mad”, which police apparently believe Syaed, despite his denials, sent.

    The emails are disgusting, but hardly a threat to the Mayor’s “safety” justifying the dramatic trampling of the Ali’s family’s basic rights.

    Why have the emails not been published? They could put this whole matter in clearer context.

  • Mr,Justice

    Syaed Ali wants to remain in the shadows. He is afraid to show his face after police executed a search warrant at his home on Breckenridge in the City of Buffalo. “THey went into my house. They ransacked my house,” said Ali.

    Ali says police took his computer, cell phone, even bank statements and business documents. He was also detained.

    But police told Eyewitness News earlier this week that Ali is at the center of an investigation. “Lets just say that there some safety concerns regarding the mayor and his family,” said Buffalo Police Spokesperson Mike DeGeorge.

    Police wouldn’t say much about the investigation, only that it began after Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown’s security detail uncovered something. They say Ali could be charged with aggravated harrassment and criminal impersonation.

    But Ali says he did nothing wrong. “They’ve broken the laws not me. They’ve went and got a warrant with no evidence. They went and got a warrant for things that are not illegal,” said Ali.

    Ali believes it’s political. When he was detained by police he says he was asked questions about the mayors political enemies. It’s puzzling, he says, because he claims not to be politically active. “That’s not really my profession. I don’t you know, go out day to day and that sort of thing and stuff. No I don’t do that,” said Ali.

    But police are telling a very different story and say they reached out to other agencies and charges could become much more serious. “Could charges be upgraded, could they be elevated depending on where the investigation goes. I think that’s possible,” said DeGeorge.”

  • Mr,Justice

    Emails have not been published, because they probably have something to hide, and even real security issues, have to follow the U.S. Constitution.

  • Dick Kern

    I can see no valid ‘security issues’ in releasing the nasty anonymous “gay-sex” emails, which apparently culminated with the following email in August(implying that the nasty emails would be released should the mayor not resign?). . .


    From: “save buffalo”
    Date: August 25, 2008 12:48:00 PM EDT
    Subject: An Open Letter to Mayor Brown

    Hon. Byron Brown
    City of Buffalo Mayor
    65 Niagara Square 201 City Hall
    Buffalo, NY 14202

    Mayor Brown and Deputy Mayor Steve Casey:

    You have done nothing to resolve the issues facing the City and our concerns. All you continue to do is issue press releases highlighting projects and or resolutions to problems with a dead end.

    The City is greatly hurting for leadership and we are requesting that you resign immediately, so we can get Buffalo on track for the first time in 50 years.


  • Mr,Justice

    Maybe releasing the gay emails, and his resignation were not tied together

  • Mr,Justice

    Ali’s Civil Rights were violated.

  • Mr.Justice

    “Even if [the accused] wrote all the e-mails, is there anything wrong with it? No.” Common Council President David A. Franczyk

    Updated: 02/01/09 08:03 AM
    Probe of Brown critic raises issue of motive
    By Michael Beebe
    Story tools:

    * Larger
    * Smaller
    * Save
    * Print
    * Email

    More Photos
    Buffalo News file photo The e-mails at the center of an investigation of Syaed Ali demanded the resignations of Mayor Byron W. Brown, left, and his first deputy, Steven M. Casey.
    Share this story:
    Buzz up!
    Add to My Yahoo!

    Did Mayor Byron W. Brown use the Buffalo Police Department to go after his political enemies?

    Or did Brown and his City Hall aides feel that a series of phony e-mails last year so threatened the mayor and his family’s safety that they asked the police to investigate?

    Either way, the complaint from Brown’s office to the police got an unusually quick and thorough response for what would end in, at most, misdemeanor charges.

    It’s been almost three months since six police investigators raided the Breckenridge Avenue home of Syaed Ali, a 24-year-old Buffalo State graduate who runs a small computer business.

    Ali, whose parents came here from Bangladesh, said police continually asked him about his relationships with the mayor’s political enemies, and at one point asked him what he had done to anger the mayor.

    The issue won’t go away in City Hall, where the debate is whether there truly was a concern for the mayor’s security, or if it was just a ham-handed effort to silence a critic of the mayor.

    “Even if he wrote all the e-mails,” asked Common Council President David A. Franczyk, “is there anything wrong with it? No. You can say anything you want about somebody if he’s in the public realm.”

    Chief of Detectives Dennis J. Richards, who assigned the case to his detectives after getting the complaint from City Hall, said it’s not a question of free speech.

    “Anyone can go out and say anything about anyone,” Richards said. “That’s not the issue here. That’s the Constitution that protects people. But I think the next level, if in fact this rises to that level, is if someone is in fact pretending to be another person.”

    The e-mails, sent from various accounts to media outlets in the city last summer and fall, demanded the resignations of the mayor and his first deputy, Steven M. Casey, and alleged a number of improprieties.

    The e-mails were so outlandish that not a single one was ever printed or aired.

    Mayoral spokesman Peter Cutler said the notion that this was a political investigation was “patently ridiculous.”

    Police spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge denied that it was overkill to send six investigators on a search warrant that alleged offenses that are misdemeanors.

    “The safety and security of the mayor and his family could be at stake,” DeGeorge said. “Secondly, the investigation is ongoing; the charges could be elevated.”

    Turning up the heat

    Attorney Richard A. Grimm III represents Ali and filed notice on Dec. 7 that Ali intends to sue the city for false arrest.

    “If the circumstances were so dangerous,” he asked last week, “why is it that we’re closing in on February and they’re only now talking about charging him? They weren’t talking about charging him until the heat got turned up on City Hall.”

    Turning up the heat has been Ali himself, who first told his story to ArtVoice, the alternative weekly, and has since granted interviews to other media.

    He repeatedly denied that he sent any of the e-mails in question, which were were sent under the accounts of truthbuffalo, wnyfirst and changebuffalo. There were also phony e-mails said to be from Brown and an unnamed local journalist.

    Interviewed by The Buffalo News, Ali was asked if he had ever seen the e-mails before.

    “I might have forwarded it to one of my friends to see what this junk was about,” he said.

    Ali said that at 7 a. m. on Nov. 7, five members of the Buffalo Police Department and an investigator with the state Attorney General’s Office came to the Breckenridge Avenue house where he lives with his parents, his two older brothers and their families.

    The investigators came with a search warrant signed by City Judge Craig D. Hannah, a former aide to the mayor who was appointed to the bench by Brown 11 days after he took office. At the time, Hannah was not in Special Term, where search warrants usually are taken, but said police often asked him to sign warrants.

    Ali said he was held in an enclosed porch while police gathered his family in the living room and officers searched the house.

    “They started going through the rooms — my rooms, and the rooms of two brothers who live in the house,” Ali said. “They put my 3-year-old niece and 4- month-old niece in a room and closed the door. They were in there by themselves, crying.”

    Hannah signed the warrant authorizing the seizure of computers and other equipment that could have been used to create and distribute “the false press releases.”

    Grimm said he has been unable to obtain the affidavit used to obtain the warrant, but Hannah said it remains confidential.

    Toiletries confiscated

    Ali said the detectives filled 11 large bags with his and his family’s possessions and had to get a truck to haul it away.

    Included in what they took and have not returned were Ali’s computers and records, his mother’s purse, his father’s and brother’s business records, and at least $750 in emergency cash. He said they also took his personal deodorant, shaving cream and nail clippers.

    Ali was taken from his home to the state attorney general’s Main Place Tower office by Buffalo Police Detective Anna Mydlarz and Investigator Michael McCartney, a computer expert with the attorney general’s office.

    Ali said he repeatedly denied that he sent the phony e-mails.

    But, he said, Mydlarz and McCartney also asked about his connections to the mayor’s political enemies.

    He said they asked him repeatedly about Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, who considered a run against Brown; South Council Member Michael Kearns, who is considering running against Brown in the next election; and Council Majority Leader Richard Fontana, who often opposes Brown.

    He said they asked him about his run for Erie County Legislature against Betty Jean Grant, who got his petitions invalidated; his potential run against State Sen. Antoine Thompson; and his efforts in the drive to draft New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for president.

    They also asked, he said, what he had done to anger the mayor.

    The FBI also became involved, questioning Ali at FBI headquarters, but let him go a short time after the interrogation began because, he was told, there were no federal computer charges involved.

    Seven hours after police first knocked on his door, Ali was released.

    To this day, he has not been charged.

    And also to this day, his lawyer said, police have not returned his and his family’s possessions.

    At first, nobody in the Police Department or City Hall would say anything about the case.

    Brown told The Buffalo News last month that he would have no comment on a pending investigation.

    Police spokesman DeGeorge told The News then, “It’s my understanding there was no formal complaint from the mayor’s office.”

    That suddenly changed last week.

    Richards confirmed to The News that he assigned Mydlarz of the Police Department’s Communication Crimes Unit to investigate because of the possibility that whoever sent the e-mails might have been guilty of criminal impersonation and aggravated harassment.

    And Cutler and DeGeorge both said that it was the mayor’s security detail that requested the investigation, because they feared for the mayor’s safety.

  • Dick Kern

    Below is the latest from Glenn Gramigna in response to the front page Bflo News story yesterday. He is admittedly a spokesperson for the Dem Party.

    Interstingly, Joe Illuzzi, chief pay-for-praise defender of Byron Brown & perenniel critic of the Bflo News, has been very silent.

    Will the Police Dept finally return the illegally-seized ASli-family property now that the issue has moved beyond the blogosphere?

    There is a highly troubling pattern here of the Bflo police commissioner repeatedly using dramatic ‘overkill’ to defend the mayor.

    It was evident in the Commissioner’s blatant lie to cover-up Byron Jr’s late night demo derby. Then the massive response to fraternity misbehavior in the Mayor’s neighborhood. And the excessive police presence in driving the mayor, guarding his office hallway & parking all night in front of the house (but not seeing Byron Jr coming or going that infamous night).

    Perhaps most ironic is Peter Cutler’s statements about “security concerns” while working behind police protection . . . when his totally-covered-up DWI-hit-&-run encounter with Keith Borders in October 2005 was a very real ‘security concern’, but made to quickly vanish by a City Court Judge, the police & the DA.

    Equal justice under law?


    News: Did Mayor Use Police To Go After Political Enemies?
    Written by Glenn Graminga, Editor


    In a stinging front page story by Michael Beebe, the Sunday Buffalo News came out swinging today in a front page story about the Syaed Ali controversy, asking the right questions while confirming many of the points previously made on

    “The issue won’t go away in City Hall,” the Beebe story correctly asserts while quoting Common Council President Dave Franczyk’s point that, even if Syaed had sent the critical e-mails in question, such an activity is clearly protected by a citizen’s First Amendment guarantees of free speech.

    “You can say anything you want about somebody if he’s in the public realm,” President Franczyk adds.

    Still, the Brown Administrtion is continuing its attempt to put up a smokescreen to cover up their activities, according to a source who asked that his name not be used.

    “The Police spokesperson, Mike DeGeorge, is still talking about how the ‘safety and security of the Mayor and his family” were supposedly involved here,” he or she notes. “From what?…Emails!…It’s ridiculous! As Richard Grimm, Syaed’s attorney has pointed out, if they were so concerned about the Mayor’s safety, why have they waited almost three months to move ahead with the case?…Some threat! And, for this they send a half dozen police officers who should be out there fighting crime and investigating all the unsolved murders we have in Buffalo to seize this young man’s nail clippers and deodorant?…I’ve never heard of anything so asinine!”
    If the concern was really about the Mayor’s safety, our source asks, then why, as the Buffalo News reports today, did the officers involved in the raid continually ask Syaed about his associations with long time Brown political adversary Assemblymember Sam Hoyt and prospective mayoral challenger Mickey Kearns?

    “Meanwhile, the Brown Administration keeps changing their story in connection with this sorry episode,” he or she adds. “As the News reports, first they wouldn’t say anything about it. Then Mike DeGeorge was saying that there was ‘no formal complaint from the mayor’s office’…Now all of a sudden almost three months after the raid, Peter Cutler, the Mayor’s press secretary and DeGeorge are talking about complaints from the Mayor’s security detail and possible federal charges. Which is it?….And, once again, if there is all this concern about the Mayor’s safety, why haven’t they done anything to resolve the issue in the past 90 days?”

    And, all this to investigate the source of e-mails that were never published or aired in the first place?

  • Dick Kern

    It is now over 12 1/2 weeks since Bflo Police illegally siezed many bags of the Ali family’s personal possession.

    Here is the latest from Glenn Gramigna, quoting Council President Franczyk . . .


    Franczyk: Lincoln, Jefferson, Called Terrible Names…Why Is Brown So Worried About E-Mails?

    Written by Glenn Graminga, Editor


    Buffalo Common Council President David Franczyk well remembers the election day, early in his career, when he realized that an opponent was distributing handbills accusing him of being the East Side Rapist…As an historian he readily recalls instances in which Abraham Lincoln was compared to a monkey while Andrew Jackson’s wife was accused of being a bigamist and a prostitute.

    So why is Queen City Mayor Byron Brown so worried about the dissemination of hostile e-mails that he sent six police officers to raid the house of their alleged perpetrator, according to a story in Sunday’s Buffalo News?

    “It doesn’t make any sense to me to have six officers involved in this from what I know about it now,” he admits, “not at a time when citizens who have their cars stolen often can’t get a police officer to come to scene the scene promptly to investigate. No matter how harsh or inaccurate the critcism is, criticising politicians is legal. If you think someone is going too far, you can sue that person. You can’t put them in jail because this is constitutionally protected free speech. When I was accused of being the East Side Rapist, I didn’t do anything because I knew that the accusation was so absurd that no one would believe it.”

    The target of the raid, WNY information technology executive, Syaed Ali, denies any involvement with the controversial e-mails and has served notice on the City of his intention to sue Buffalo for violation of his constitutional rights.

    President Franczyk cites historical precedents.

    “They called Abraham Lincoln a monkey in the newspapers and worse,” he recalls. “They put pictures in the paper of Thomas Jefferson with Sally Hemmings. They accused the wife of Andrew Jackson of being little more than a prostitute and of having been married to two different men at once. They called President John Adams, ‘his rotundity.’ I could go on and on. If you are going to be in public life, you have to be able to just shrug this kind of thing off and go on.”

    Of course, if there were really threats made against Mayor Brown, that would change President Franczyk’s view.

    “Physical threats are a different story and should be thoroughly investigated,” he adds. “But, criticism, even extremely negative and inaccurate criticism. That’s just free speech.”

  • Dick Kern

    I filed a complaint to Citi-stat at noon yesterday about the Ali debacle.
    Incredibly, it has already been “resolved”.

    Here is the city (non)response:


    Subj: Case/Service Number 424079 Status Closed (Case Resolved)

    Request for police services
    Case/Service Number 424079
    Status Closed
    Description On Nov 7 (12 1/2 wks ago) 6 police agents illegally confiscated many bags of Ali family member’s possessions on a dubious search warrant signed by a Judge & close friend of the Mayor. One family member, Syaed, was detained for 7 hr, apparently having angered the Mayor. When will the property be returned & this dramatic abuse of power & Constitutional rights be explained?

    Date Raised 02/03/2009 12:09 PM
    Raised against 578 BRECKENRIDGE, Buffalo, NY, 14222
    Service Request Progress
    The list below shows the current list of tasks for this service request:
    Task Name Due Date Status
    Resolve Police Issue 03/03/2009 12:09 Complete
    Resolve Case 02/04/2009 Case Resolved
    -Description: The Chief of Detective Richards has been notified and a request has been made to be contacted. D District has been notified as an FYI
    City of Buffalo – Division of Citizen Services.

    And here is Joe Illuzzi’s latest response to the Sunday Bflo News article, after dramatic silence about obvious misconduct by one of his major pay-for-praise clients


    February 5, 2009 (Note: Illuzzi always has ‘tomorrow’s news’)

    UPDATE: “COUNCIL PRESIDENT FRANCZYK RECALLS BEING CALLED “THE EAST SIDE RAPIST”. Truth is Franczyk, et al. were called the “East side racists” ###

    The Syaed Ali article in Sunday’s paper is just another example of Beebee’s ‘parasitical’ approach to his reporter’s job over the last few years. The Ali story is pure bovine manure a put up job by Common Council President Dave Franczyk, et al. in an “attempt” to embarrass the Mayor.

    Beebee attempted to claim the Capozzi story that belonged to News reporter Gene Warner & on & on. The man doesn’t leave the building, end of story. Now he, like pol reporter Bob McCarthy, is a candidate for a buy out! …