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March 11, 2013 - 3:08pm

Sheriff responds to allegation that investigator placed bets with bookie working in fire department

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

Sheriff Gary Maha was on vacation last week when The Batavian sought a response from him on allegations raised by Larry Andolina, attorney for Greg Phillips, that Sgt. Steve Mullen had mishandled the investigation of a bookmaking case involving two city firefighters.

Phillips is one of three men, including another former city firefighter, who admitted in December to bookmaking (taking sports bets). 

This afternoon we received the following response from Maha:

Allegations were made through defense counsel (Mr. Andolina) that Steve Mullen had in the past placed bets with his client. Information was that these alleged bets were placed four to five years ago.

As you know, placing a bet is not illegal, however if this was true, it would be a violation of our rules and regulations.

Based upon these allegations, we initiated an internal investigation. Steve Mullen retired prior to the completion of our internal investigation, therefore this became a moot issue as I could not discipline him if these allegations were sustained. All personnel matters are confidential.

Phillips and co-defendants Brian Bordinaro and Lance Engel each entered guilty pleas Dec. 11 to a Class A misdemeanor charge of promoting gambling, 2nd. Last Tuesday, they each learned that Judge Robert Balbick intends to give them weekend community work details as part of their sentences.

After the hearing, Andolina spoke with the media and said the reduced charge (the bookies were originally charged with the Class B felony of enterprise corruption) was the result of the Sheriff's Office mishandling the case. Pressed for proof, Andolina mentioned Mullen's retirement, but declined to produce any other evidence.

Later that evening WIVB aired a story that more specifically accused Mullen of placing bets, but it was scant on details and offered no factual information to back up the allegation. The story was based entirely on anonymous sources.

Robert Brown
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This may be moot, but a mute issue is not a moot issue.

No public employee should be immune from conduct violations just because he or she is no longer a public employee. Monetary and benefits penalties should always be allowed to be imposed on any public employee for conduct violations they successfully hid while employed if such violations are discovered after employment is terminated, for whatever reason, and such violations are proven legally as factual.

cj sruger
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Wow, their books went back 4-5 years? And i think the issue is more that he was investigating suspects which he was involved with. Not the fact he place a harmless bet. Your telling me there is no official misconduct there? Would he have gotten his pension of the internal investigation found him in violation of law and was terminated? Why would the internal investigation stop? Your telling me there was no laws broke here?

Mark Potwora
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Bob i guess we will just have to read between the lines on this one...

John Woodworth JR
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Absolutely Right Bob. Wish we held our government to the same standards and ideals.

John Roach
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cj,
If a NYS civil service employee is fired or convicted of a crime, he/she keeps the pension they earned up to that time.

Dave Meyer
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Mark if you read between the lines, think of how many other cases Mullen's 'retirement' affected. Surely this case isn't the only one he was working on.

The efforts of countless other dedicated law enforcement were squandered because once one case is tainted, any lawyer worth his/her salt says "what about my client's case"? I doubt we'll ever know the true cost in that regard.

It's a damn shame that it looks like this investigation has hit a dead end. There should be accountability whether he "retired" or not. I would think that the sheriff would want that to clear the department's reputation, but I doubt we'll ever see that.

Mark Potwora
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Dave I agree...

Paul Witkowski
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WOW!!!! Shame on you Maha!!

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