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Potential conflict of interest over County-purchased property?

A discussion has arisen following a bid offered at the recent Wayne County Real Property Tax Auction which occured on Wednesday, June 13th.

Ontario Town Supervisor, Frank Robusto, who is a Realtor by trade, put in a bid on a Property listed in the auction.

Following the auction, County officials questioned the legality or ethics, including probable conflict of interest in Robusto making such an offer.

“There is potential for pursuing what might be considered a conflict of interest — for an elected County official to purchase properties from its Tax Auction,” said County Administrator, Richard House.

“It came to our attention today, after yesterday’s auction, that a Town Supervisor and member of the County Board of Supervisors made an offer on one of the Properties being sold for back taxes,” explained House. “Our County Attorney is, at this time, looking into the legitimacy of the purchase, which may have the potential of a violation of County ethics and compliance. If it, in fact, was a case where a person, knowingly and willfully went ahead with an action, which was advised against, there would be grounds for action, according to the General Municipal Law, Article 18, Section 804.”

According to House, besides the required statutory nullification under General Municipal Law, Section 804 of any contract which would violate Article 18 of the General Municipal Law (Section 800, et. Seq.), GML, Sec. 805 provides that “knowing and willful” violation of Article 18 is a criminal misdemeanor offense.

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