Kimble to File Grievance Against Janese, Ottaviano
By Mike Hudson
Niagara Falls Water Board member Renae Kimble will take her case against Chairman Ted Janese and legal counsel John Ottaviano to the Attorney Grievance Committee of the Fourth Judicial District.
Both Janese and Ottaviano are lawyers and Kimble believes both men participated in a cover-up of Janese’s legal residence, allowing him to continue to serve on the board after he moved to Lewiston last October.
She said Janese had to resign when he moved out of the city since there must be at least three city residents on the Niagara Falls Water Board. When he moved out of the city last October, there were only two members.
His resignation might have shifted the balance of power away from Niagara County interests and thwarted the patronage hire of Roger Lance, who is closely associated with the Republican county regime.
Both Janese and Ottaviano are involved in county Republican politics.
County Republicans have control of the city's Water Board.
Janese, however, denied he had ever moved, even though the water meter at his former Point Avenue residence showed no water consumption, and records show that he and his wife bought a house in Lewiston last August. Additionally, a directory for the Republican Executive Committee, on which Janese serves, lists his Lewiston residence as his contact mailing address.
Janese also submitted a copy of an HSBC bank statement from December 2012 that he claimed was mailed to him in Niagara Falls. The statement is problematic, according to Kimble, in that HSBC was taken over last May by First Niagara Bank, which immediately began issuing statements on its own letterhead.
“Niagara Falls and Niagara County are both known throughout the Western New York region for a culture of corruption, deceit, and conflict of interest issues,” Kimble told the Water Board on Feb 28. “The time is now to put an end to this sad, sordid, unethical and fraudulent blemish to the Niagara Falls Water Board and to the citizens of Niagara Falls.”
But no action was taken against Janese and Ottaviano, and board members attempted to kick Kimble off the board, and an investigation was launched to determine who in the Water Department provided her with the meter readings from the Janese’s home.
In a secret meeting, they actually held a vote to oust her.
She and Janese had to abstain from voting.
It came down to the three remaining board members and all three had to vote to remove her in order for it to be binding.
Two voted to remove Kimble and Thomas Vitello, the water board member who was appointed to the board by the council - led then by Sam Fruscione - voted to save Kimble.
The whistle-blowing board member who dared to expose a liar was not removed.
And she went right back at it again.
“In December, Ted Janese maintained that his Niagara Falls residence was suitable for living, yet he apparently has not consumed any water since October 2012. The cupboards are completely void of any food. There is no refrigerator; there is no furniture for sitting in living areas,” Kimble told the Niagara Falls Reporter. “He’s the one who violated his oath of office as a member of the Water Board, as well as the New York Lawyers Code of Professional Responsibility that all attorneys are to abide by, morally, ethically and professionally.”
According to its website, the Attorney Grievance Committee of the Fourth Judicial Department of the State of New York was formed to investigate and prosecute complaints of misconduct against lawyers. The main purpose of the committee is to protect the public against lawyers who do not act in an ethical manner.
“Discipline of a lawyer must be considered very carefully since it may drastically affect the lawyer's career, reputation, and ability to earn a living.” the website states. “It takes evidence, proof of unethical conduct, to justify discipline of a lawyer, just as it takes proof before you or any member of society may be penalized for wrongdoing.”
Interestingly, Ottaviano serves on the committee, a conflict that will likely result in Kimble’s grievance being heard in another district, in a part of the state far removed from the labyrinthine politics of Niagara County.
Kimble, who has a law degree herself, has accused Janese of out and out fraud and Janese has denied it.
Now Janese, who operates a one-man office at 324 Pine Ave., will get his day in court.
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