Former Niagara Falls Mayor Vince Anello in Federal Court
BUFFALO, NY - Former Niagara Falls mayor Vince Anello will spend more than a year behind bars for submitting false information to collect a pension he was not eligible to receive.
Anello, 64, was sentenced Monday in federal court to 13 months in federal prison. Once the sentence is completed, Anello will be on two years of supervised release and will need to pay back $45,403.25 to the electricians' union that he worked for.
Anello spoke before he was sentenced saying he was "embarrassed" and "has no one to blame but himself."
Anello said as Mayor "he was at the top of the mountain, and now I'm at the bottom of the valley looking up."
In September, Anello - a former electrician and electrical contractor - admitted collecting a $48,000 a year pension from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 237. Anello falsely reported his hours and worked more hours than allowed by pension law.
In sentencing Anello, Judge William Skretney said Anello, who immigrated from Sicily was he was ten years old, "lived an American dream that turned into an American tragedy."
The judge added that "You felt you were too big for the rules that apply to everyone else."
The judge said he received 42 letters from friends, family, those in government and the military asking for leniency for Anello who served as mayor from 2004-07.
As part of a plea deal, Anello admitted receiving $40,000 in secret payments from local businessman Joe Anderson while he was running for mayor in 2003. Anderson's company later received a city lease based on Anello's recommendation. The corruption charges were dropped were dropped following a U.S. Supreme Court decision that the "theft of honest services" charge that Anello was accused of was too vague.
It's expected that Anello will voluntarily surrender to start serving his sentence in about six weeks.
His attorney says with good behavior, Anello could have his sentence reduced by two months.