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July 18, 2019

Ethics board hits ex-state Sen. Panepinto with $10k fine for sexual harassment of staffer

February 8, 2019
Ex-state senator, Marc Panepinto (D-Buffalo), speaks in the Senate Chamber in Albany in 2016. (Mike Groll / AP)

Former state Sen. Marc Panepinto admitted Thursday to breaking the state ethics law and agreed to pay $10,000 in fines for sexually harassing a staffer.

The state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics and the Legislative Ethics Commission announced that it reached a settlement with the disgraced ex-lawmaker, effectively ending a probe into allegations he made “unwanted verbal and physical sexual advances” toward a female staffer and offered her cash or a job to keep quiet about it.


Panepinto signed off on the deal on Jan. 15.

The Buffalo Democrat served for two years until 2016 when he pleaded guilty to the attempted cover-up in federal court in June. He was sentenced to two months in prison and one year of supervised release in December.

His plea stemmed from advances he made on a staffer while at a Jan. 2016 fund-raiser in New York City.

Panepinto suggested he and the staffer go back to her hotel room to count the money they’d raised, according to federal prosecutors. While there, she refused his advances and he left, but returned early the next morning.

The staffer eventually resigned. The Senate investigated and referred its internal report on the matter to the Legislative Ethics Commission, which sent it to JCOPE.

In March 2016, JCOPE sent Panepinto a letter outlining allegations that he used his post to “secure unwarranted privileges,” among other violations of the public officers law — all of which the lawmaker denied at the time.

But last June, Panepinto changed his tune.

“I certainly understand that my actions were not appropriate and that they had hurtful consequences,” he said in a statement at the time. “For that, I am truly sorry.”

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