NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) - A former top city official in Niagara Falls who admitted to his part of a corruption scandal will not spend a day behind bars.
Guy Bax could have spent time behind bars but instead received two years probation when he was sentenced on Friday. After 33 years of public service, the former Niagara Falls building commissioner found himself snared in a corruption case.
The 66-year-old pleaded guilty to accepting gratuities in connection with his role as building commissioner.
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First Asst. U.S. Attorney J.P. Kennedy said, "Frankly, Mr. Bax should have known better in terms of his contacts with someone who's a known felon, and his relationship, and the fact that he steered business to a known felon."
Bax, who has since retired from the city, steered business to John Gross, a well-known plumbing and heating contractor in the Falls. In return, prosecutors say, Bax received gifts and favors.
Gross is serving 33 months in prison for mail fraud and filing a false tax return. Bax's attorney, Terry Connors, says his client developed a long-term relationship with Gross.
"Almost as though Gross was a family member. So when the imposition came from Gross to do things he unfortunately blurred that line between his friendship and his obligation to Niagara Falls, and he stepped over the line," Connors was said.
Before he was sentenced to probation, Bax told the court, "It's been a horror show...I've sullied my father's name. I know I've harmed my family."
Kennedy stated, "A person may be purchased on the cheap, as we seen in this case, in terms of the amount of money that he was given and the things that he received. That discount does not in any way diminish the cost exacted on society. And that cost is the total loss of the public trust."
Federal Judge Richard Arcara sentenced Bax to probation, rather than prison time, saying, "I just don't think it would serve any real purpose."
Connors added, "Even though it was wrong, even though it was illegal, it was at the lower end of culpability. So that a term of incarceration would not be appropriate under the guideline sentencing in this particular case."
Bax did cooperate with federal investigators. He must also pay a $2,000 fine.
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