You’ve got to hand it to Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster. He chose a city engineer, Ali Marzban, who was unlicensed to practice engineering anywhere in The United States. And he picked as his preferred hotel developer Mark Hamister, who not only had never built a hotel before but lacked the money to build anything.
His hiring of Warshaw and Associates to oversee the city police department cost taxpayers more than $400,000 and produced no tangible results whatsoever.
Except perhaps a future lawsuit between the Police Union and the City over a disciplinary policy Warshaw wrote the violates the union contract [more on that next week].
Dyster sold city cops down the river when he entered into a consent order with the state based on 30 citizen complaints against the police – which were never made public – alleging that officers in the department were biased against black people.
One source who has seen the complaints told the Niagara Falls Reporter that they run the gamut from use of unnecessary force to one where a woman complained that the children of a neighbor who happens to be a police officer have repeatedly kicked a football into her yard.
Warshaw had close political ties with the Cuomo administration. He served as the Rochester chief of police until 1998. His deputy chief, Robert Duffy, then became police chief and later mayor of Rochester, publicly referring to Warshaw as “my dear friend.”
In 2010, Cuomo selected Duffy to be his gubernatorial running mate, and within days of their election victory, the lieutenant governor’s “dear friend” received a lucrative no-bid contract in Niagara Falls.
Warshaw made headlines when the city administrator of Oakland, CA, accused him of sexual impropriety.
In 2012, Oakland City Administrator Deanna Santana accused Warshaw of making sexual advances toward her. That prompted attorneys seeking to put the department under federal control to demand an investigation as to how that information became public.
In one case, Warshaw allegedly took the hand of the married mother of two and told her she looked “stunning.” It was further alleged that the former Rochester police chief proposed Santana meet him at private locations. Warshaw also allegedly used abusive language when talking to Santana about Police Chief Howard Jordan, sources familiar with the case said.
U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson, who had selected Warshaw in the first place, dismissed the case without addressing the issue of whether or not the lurid accusations were true. Henderson ordered all information regarding the alleged sexual impropriety sealed forever from public view.
Warshaw’s family troubles were also the subject of extensive press coverage.
In September 2000, a federal grand jury indicted his brother, Donald Warshaw, the former Miami police chief and city manager, on charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and mail fraud. In a stunning announcement that capped a yearlong investigation, U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis said the grand jury’s five-count indictment charged Warshaw with illegally funneling tens of thousands of dollars from the Miami Police Relief and Pension Fund, and a charity into his personal accounts over a six-year period, beginning in 1993.
According to the feds, Donald Warshaw committed an especially reprehensible offense: using his position as an assistant police chief, and later as chief, for personal gain. He was accused of using the corporate American Express cards of the pension fund and Do The Right Thing of Miami Inc., a charitable organization that helps disadvantaged youth, for his own benefit. The charity was funded in part by law enforcement trust funds administered by the city.
According to the indictment, from May 1993 to April 1999, Warshaw charged to the credit cards of the pension fund and charity personal expenses amounting to $86,563. He then paid the bills using funds of the two organizations. The money paid for Florida Panthers hockey tickets and for shopping trips to Lord and Taylor’s and Victoria’s Secret.
The indictment also charged Warshaw with depositing checks and cash belonging to the charity into his personal bank account and using that money to pay for personal expenses and bank overdrafts. He pleaded guilty to one charge of federal mail fraud in 2001 and served a year in federal prison. Warshaw, 61, was released in 2002. In 2004, he was denied a $128,000-a year pension because of his conviction.
But the problems were far from over for anyone in the Warshaw family, which has certainly known its share of sadness and tragedy. In April of 2007, Jodi Lynn Warshaw – Donald’s daughter and Robert’s niece, was murdered at the age of 36 by her abusive, estranged husband, Ben Barone, in the parking lot of a Pennsylvania convenience store. Barone then shot himself.
Having nationally recognized law enforcement officials for a father and an uncle was no protection for Jodi Lynn Warshaw, whose obituaries and gravestone list her by her maiden name.
In November 2011, the names of both Donald and Robert Warshaw surfaced in a lawsuit filed in North Carolina by Donald Warshaw’s ex-wife Karen against her husband, his mother and brother Robert Warshaw when Karen tried to collect a $119,362.50 judgment against Donald Warshaw from their 1995 divorce settlement.
She learned Donald had transferred a major asset — half-interest in the seven acres in Sylva, NC, — to Eugenia Warshaw, the brothers then 95-year-old mother, who immediately deeded the property to Robert Warshaw, who had a home on the acreage.
Karen Warshaw, a certified paralegal, filed a Miami-Dade court motion to undo the real estate transaction. The court ruled the property transfer was ”fraud” designed to ”hinder” Donald Warshaw’s creditors, including Karen, but lacked jurisdiction in the matter.
So Karen sued Donald, Robert, and Eugenia Warshaw in North Carolina, claiming collusion in a ”fraudulent transfer.” Robert and Eugenia filed papers denying any wrongdoing. In those documents, Eugenia mounted her ”cross claim” against her black sheep son Donald, who, she claimed, deeded his half-interest as ”restitution” for spending her annuity funds.
The result of Warshaw’s involvement with the Niagara Falls Police Department? Crime has steadily increased and numerous websites have given the city the dubious honor of being the most dangerous municipality in the state.
Police morale plunged as rank and file officers realized that their boss, Mayor Paul Dyster, regarded them – and not the criminals who roam our streets – were the problem.
And the taxpayers are out as much as $1 million.
Nice work, Mr. Mayor.