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Sheriff Howard Underpaid, Like Schoolteachers

Sheriff Tim Howard beclowned himself again by taking a job working security for M&T Bank.  On top of that, he even did the sort of thing that’s supposed to really piss off the WBEN right in western New York: he used his county take-home vehicle to get to and from work at the bank. 

But Howard is shameless, and whines that the work was, like, really fulfilling and totally cool. It was also paying him $50/hour. 

If this was merely the first time Howard did something embarrassing, corrupt, or stupid, it’d be bad enough. But as the News points out

It’s hard not to conclude that this is simply another episode of the sheriff’s pattern of poor judgment. That deficiency was on display when the jail was plagued with prisoner suicides; it was on display in the aftermath of jail escapes, including that of Ralph “Bucky” Phillips; and it was on display last fall when he pitched for votes by promising not to enforce the state’s new gun law known as the SAFE Act. This is a law enforcement officer who has shown he is without any sense of the propriety his high office demands.

It is true that Erie County’s sheriff is woefully underpaid. Howard’s salary is just $79,000, a ridiculously low figure given the importance of the job to county residents. Incredibly, Howard is paid $32,000 a year less than his undersheriff, Mark N. Wipperman, though it’s fair to say that Wipperman does a better job running the department than his boss.

But if money was a motivating factor for Howard, the answer wasn’t for him to cheat taxpayers of a full-time sheriff by moonlighting as a bank detective. It was to petition the County Legislature and county executive for an increase in pay, and then to rally support for the point. Most sheriffs, though perhaps not this one, could have made a strong case for a higher salary.

Better yet, if the Sheriff’s salary is so “low” at $79,000 (I really need to remember that line the next time some half-baked asshole attacks public school teacher salaries), Mr. Howard can simply resign and go to work for M&T full time.

Court Revives Fraud Claim Against M&T Bank

The fraud case brought in 2011 by CIFG Assurance North America against Goldman Sachs took a dramatic turn today when the New York State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division, First Department, reversed a 2012 ruling by a Manhattan trial judge.

According to this Reuters story:

“The ruling also revived fraud claims against M&T Bank Corp, one of several originators that sold the loans to Goldman. An M&T Bank spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.”

District Attorney Gives Up On Buckley Case

Photo by Christina Cooke

Photo by Christina Cooke

Just a week ago it appeared that the Erie County District Attorney was preparing to appeal the December 20 verdict handed down by Judge Joseph Fiorella, in which the judge dismissed all charges brought against war protester Nate Buckley.

After deadline yesterday, we learned that the D.A. is instead calling “no mas.”

Click here to read the Stipulation to Withdraw Appeal.

Thus ends one of the dumbest prosecutions in local history. Thankfully, the Erie County D.A. will no longer be wasting time and resources trying to convict a victim of an NFTA police beating on behalf of the People of the State of New York.

Buckley in grasp



M&T Bank, Goldman Sachs Sued by CIFG

On Tuesday, CIFG Assurance North America, Inc., filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court against Goldman Sachs and M&T Bank, alleging “fraud and breach of contract arising from numerous and systematic misrepresentations and material omissions made by the Defendants in connection with the securitization of a portfolio of approximately 6,204 residential mortgage loans. CIFG is the financial guaranty insurer of approximately $275 million of securities issued in connection with that securitization.”

A majority of the bad loans were made by M&T, then packaged by Goldman Sachs and sold—with CIFG acting as the insurer.

CIFG claims they were duped in 2007—during the buildup to the mortgage crisis—when Goldman Sachs violated its own underwriting guidelines and the warranties they made about the loans, according to the lawsuit.

“Likewise, a review of loans originated by M&T Bank reveals widespread breaches of M&T Bank’s representations and warranties. Consistent with the findings from this sample, the Loans in the asset pool—most of which should never have been made in the first place, let alone sold and packaged into a securitization—have been defaulting at staggering rates, with delinquencies beginning prior to closing of the Securitization and increasing rapidly thereafter,” the suit contends.

CIFG is seeking compensation for the hundreds of millions of dollars it may be liable for due to being misled by the defendants in 2007. The plaintiffs want Goldman Sachs and M&T to repurchase all the breaching loans, award of damages, court costs, etc., and further relief as the Court deems just and proper.

Meanwhile, CIFG is not handling any new business. A spokesperson there said, “We insure securities that were backed by mortgage loans. Goldman Sachs and M&T and others made representations about the loans which we believe are false, and so there are contractual remedies they’re supposed to follow which they did not. So we’re forced to litigate to pursue our claims.”

M&T has not responded to our request for comment.

Click here to download a copy of the lawsuit.

(And, yes, I know what you’re thinking: “Why am I reading about this in Artvoice, and not in The Buffalo News or Business First?”)