LACKAWANNA, N.Y. (WIVB) - A former Lackawanna City Court judge landed on the wrong side of the law for abusing his power and has lost his seat.
The city trusted Louis Violanti to be impartial in the pursuit of justice. But now the ex-judge has lost his seat and another job for orchestrating a phony court appearance to help out a friend.
For most of the past six years, Violanti was a Lackawanna City Court judge, until a few months ago when he decided to help a friend beat a traffic ticket. The friend wasn't in court, so from the bench, Violanti asked a Lackawanna Police officer to pose as the friend and ask for a dismissal of the case.
Word of the incident leaked out, and Violanti had to step down. But even after resigning as judge, Violanti was appointed to another position in city government: assistant attorney in the Law Department.
Lackawanna Mayor Jeff Szymanski says he knew why Violanti stepped down as judge but still appointed him to fill the open position.
"Lou's value was tremendous," Szymanski said. "Lou Violanti is a great attorney and he had a two minute faux pas in his professional career that is looking to have a detrimental impact on him and his family."
For his actions, Violanti eventually negotiated a plea deal with the District Attorney and had to give up not only his judgeship, but also the post as the city's assistant attorney.
Violanti, a father of three, was an adjunct professor at ECC and still practices law privately a few blocks from Lackawanna City Hall. He did not return News 4's calls for comment.
Rachel Kranitz McPhee is a fellow attorney.
"It was clearly a poor decision on his part. On the other hand, I know about his involvement in the community, I know him as a colleague. I know that this seems like an anomaly in his life," McPhee said.
The strangest part about this unusual case is that the traffic ticket would have likely been dismissed even without this courtroom charade.
As for the police officer who went along with it, John Hruby, he will be suspended for 60 days without pay, beginning on Sunday.
Police say they had the wrong man, and that Jerome Thagard, who spent four years in prison, didn't murder Steven Northrup in 2009. But the victim's family says otherwise.
A Good Samaritan died Wednesday while trying to assist the driver of a tractor trailer who got stuck in the snow.
A 26-year-old male employee of Ying's Wings and Things told police that Haibo Jiang, also known as Jimmy Ying, choked him until he passed out.
It was so treacherous in North Collins, the mayor had to issue a travel ban, and village snow plows were pulled off the roadways to keep drivers from trying to plow in zero visibility.
The Buffalo School Board unanimously approved plans to transform Burgard High School into a Manufacturing Magnet School on Wednesday,
Investigators are making progress in the case of a Chihuahua thrown in a ditch while zipped up in a Coors Light thermal bag.