BUFFALO, NY-- A former member of the Buffalo Common Council pled guilty Tuesday to charges of stealing money from an organization that received federal funds while he was in office.
Brian Davis admitted to taking over $48,000 from multiple organizations from 2006-2010.
Davis faces up to 10 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced September 5th. But under federal sentencing guidelines he will likely serve no more than 10 to 16 months behind bars.
Davis may also be ordered to pay $48,237 in restitution to the City of Buffalo.
Davis, who previously vowed to fight the charges when he was indicted just over a year ago, entered his guilty plea about a month and a half before he was scheduled to go on trial. He said nothing to reporters after his court appearance on Tuesday morning.
As part of his plea, Davis will have to cooperate with federal agents probing other potential cases of corruption at city hall.
"We have the same agents who spent so much time getting us to this point now discussing with Mr. Davis his knowledge of any and all other possible criminal activity," said United States Attorney for Western New York William Hochul. "And if, as a result of that, information and sufficient evidence is developed to charge then you would see us standing up here again," Hochul said, during a news conference with reporters at his office in downtown Buffalo following Davis' guilty plea.
Prosecutors say Davis would deposit money skimmed from grants he steered toward community groups into his bank account.
"What he did with it is impossible to say because he immediately took the money out in cash, and there's no way for us to tell how the cash was spent," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell Ippolito who prosecuted the case.
Davis, who resigned from the Common Council in 2009 after admitting to misusing campaign funds, was also charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia when he was arrested in a drug sweep last year.
"Elected officials owe a special duty to the public by virtue of their unique position," said Hochul. "In our Constitutional system of Government, such officials serve as temporary caretaker of the Government and its property, and are responsible for deciding exactly how and how much of the hard earned money of taxpayers will be spent. This marks one of the first times in memory that an elected official actually stole money in his care. These funds were intended to benefit the community and make the city a better place to live, but were instead used to line the pockets of a public official and his friends."
"The majority of our public officials are honest and work hard to improve the lives of those they serve, but a small number make decisions for the wrong reasons," said Steven L. Lanser, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Buffalo office of the FBI. "These people have been found in legislatures, courts, city halls, and government agencies of all types. Public officials like Mr. Davis are trusted to safeguard and protect the communities they serve. Public Corruption undermines the public trust and confidence in local Western New York governments. Those who engage in this culture of corruption should know the cross hairs of justice will continue to be focused on them."
Click on the video player to watch our story from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Norm Fisher.