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May 19, 2022 - 8:15am

Siebert clears the air about claims of former state senator

posted by Joanne Beck in news, Batavia Downs, WROTB, notify.

After presenting bid requests for election-related equipment Wednesday, Genesee County Board of Elections Commissioner Dick Siebert put on his personal hat. 

He wanted to clear the air about the relationship between him and former state senator George Maziarz. This past week Maziarz held a news conference to announce a lawsuit he has filed against Western Regional Off-Track Betting. In particular, Maziarz alleged that Batavia Downs and WROTB officials have engaged in "shameless and blatant corruption."

One of the allegations involved OTB members fraudulently obtaining perks, including health insurance, at the expense of taxpayers. Batavia Downs President and CEO Henry Wojtaszek defended the actions of both entities and said he believes that Maziarz is "just a bitter individual" who seems to have a vendetta against Batavia Downs and OTB. 

Likewise, Siebert, who has been a longtime leading member of OTB, wanted to have his say about Maziarz's motivation. 

"I'm just clearly here, I gotta say, and I'm gonna say this publicly, George Maziarz and I have not had a good rapport over the years," Siebert said during the Ways & Means Committee meeting. "When I was chairman, the one year George Maziarz approached me and he threatened me. If I didn't fire this particular guy ... he was a Democrat and George wanted somebody else ... I would never be chairman again.

"Well, I didn't fire him. He was definitely just upset because I would not support it. I understand being in the public eye that you're subjected to this kind of criticism ... I'm proud of what I've done for Genesee County. I'm happy to represent you. So I'm just getting this off my chest."

He recalled when Batavia Downs was in its early stages, and the parking lot and property were filled with seagulls and asbestos. All of that had to be cleaned up and new plans were put in place to create the gaming facility on Park Road, he said.

"I think we've done a great job."

Maziarz alleged that Siebert was involved in texting and/or emailing communications that involved misuse of company funds used for tickets to special events. Anyone who knows Siebert is also aware that he doesn't do such technology, he said. 

"The joke in my office was 'we know Dick didn't do that because Dick doesn't text.' My wife does all the acquisitions. She laughed. She said, 'What is he saying? You can't do emails.' Number one, I never emailed anybody about any tickets. I got accused of owing Genesee County taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars for the health insurance that I had taken for the 28 years I've been here," he said. "It's questionable right now and we're reviewing it. We've had, over the 28 years I've been here, we've had many comptrollers audits and not one of them raised an issue until just recently about the legality of it. So I had health insurance, and I'm not denying that I've had it, everybody else can have it." 

There have been prior audits with some negative findings, and OTB has made changes accordingly, Siebert has previously said. There was a lack of oversight of the distribution of sports and concert tickets and use of company vehicles, he said, and those mistakes have been corrected.

To read more about the Maziarz lawsuit, click here  

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