Francyzk Calls for FBI Investigation…
by Geoff Kelly - posted 3:26 pm, September 8, 2009
…but several sources confirm that the FBI have beaten him to the punch.
Common Council President Dave Franczyk is writing a letter asking the FBI to investigate allegations that Mayor Byron Brown convinced Buffalo police officers to release One Sunset restaurateur Leonard Stokes from custody back in the summer of 2007, after the cops had picked him up and handcuffed him on suspicion of possession of a stolen handicapped parking permit. The story broke in the Sunday Buffalo News.
The story says that Stokes was apprehended outside the Ellicott Square Building, where police had observed a handicapped parking permit on his vehicle. There had recently been a theft of handicapped parking passes from City Hall, and so Buffalo police were on the alert for drivers who had them but didn;t seem to need them. Stokes, a celebrated athlete, seemed to fit the bill. He was arrested and cuffed, but pleaded with officers to call the mayor’s office. Eventually they did, and in the end delivered Stokes to the mayor’s office on the second floor of City Hall. Some time later, Stokes left the office a free man.
In today’s followup story in the News, there’s an audio file of Brown wigging out on reporters who asked him questions about the Stokes matter after a press conference on Inner Harbor development.
Franczyk said that the allegation—that an elected official had intervened in the criminal justice process—was as serious as they come, regardless of the nature of the charge against Stokes. No elected official has the power to instruct the police to do his will, he said. In addition to asking the FBI to look into the matter, Franczyk and other members of Council will ask the Police Oversight Committee to examine the issue. The chairman of that committee, of course, is Ellicott District’s Brian Davis, who is tied to Stokes and the One Sunset debacle.
Sources close to the officers involved in the case say they have already been contacted by the FBI. Further, they say that the officers made a record of the events of the day in question.
Franczyk said he would consider using the Council’s subpoena powers to get to the bottom of the issue.