FBI raids offices of political power group, Grassroots

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – FBI agents raided the offices of Grassroots, Inc., one of Western New York’s most influential political groups, and two other locations, Thursday. An FBI spokesperson confirmed, agents were armed with search warrants when they raided Grassroots offices on Genesee Street.

When it comes to Buffalo power politics, Grassroots swings a very big stick. Among those whose political careers were catapulted by the East Side group: Mayor Byron Brown, State Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, and Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant.

Also taking part in the raids, State Police, the New York Attorney General’s Office, and the IRS. Authorities also removed records from offices of the Urban Chamber of Commerce on Main Street.

These same law enforcement agencies were involved in the raid of political heavyweight Steve Pigeon’s offices, two years ago. Pigeon is a close associate of Grassroots founder Maurice Garner.

Garner also has offices at the Main Street location that was raided, and agents seized records from his business offices on Meech Street. So far News 4 has been unsuccessful trying to reach Garner for comment.

News 4 also reached out to State Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, who issued this brief statement, “While in Albany continuing to pass meaningful policy, news from today’s events were brought to my attention. It is my hope that those involved cooperate fully and it is important to allow due process within the justice system to proceed.”

County Legislator Betty Jean Grant posted on her Facebook page, Thursday afternoon, that Grassroots was to blame for her very narrow loss in her run for the State Senate, “This ‘political group’ cost me and the community the 2012 State Senate election.”

A spokesman for Mayor Byron Brown contacted News 4, but the mayor had not issued a comment as of publication.

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