BATH, N.Y. (WETM) – The other two men have pled guilty in connection to the Steuben County criminal enterprise case that resulted in a 54-count indictment last year, including Steve Maio, a County Legislator.
Steuben County District Attorney Brooks Baker told 18 News on April 22, 2022 that District 2 Legislator Steve Maio and Larry Comfort Jr. both pled guilty to solicitation charges in the case. According to Baker, Maio pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of Solicitation of a Person for Prostitution, and Comfort Jr. pled guilty to a felony Attempted Criminal Enterprise charge.
In addition to the two new guilty pleas, Baker said that Larry Comfort Sr., who pled guilty last month, has now been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Maio and Comfort Jr. are set to be sentenced in June 2022.
There is no word on whether Maio will step down as a legislator. 18 News has reached out to the County Offices and is waiting for more information. A County Legislative meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 25.
Steuben County Republican Committee Chariman Joe Sempolinski called on Maio to resign, saying, “Steuben County Legislator Steve Maio has pled guilty to Solicitation of a Person for Prostitution. I once again call on him to resign from his office. I first called on him to resign in Dec. 2020. Mr. Maio did not do the right thing for the people of Steuben County at that time. Now that he has finally admitted to criminal activity he needs to resign and let the county move on. His behavior has been a total disgrace.”
In March, Comfort Sr. and Jonathan Hamilton, the other two men indicted, both pled guilty to various charges. Comfort Sr. pled guilty to Promoting Prostitution and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance. Hamilton pled guilty to a misdemeanor Conspiracy charge and was sentenced to four months in the Steuben County Jail.
The four men, along with Michael Stratton were originally indicted in December 2020 in connection to an investigation into a sex trafficking ring. Charges in the original indictment included sex trafficking, promoting prostitution, criminal sale of a controlled substance, criminal solicitation and conspiracy to commit murder, falsifying business records, forgery, enterprise corruption, sale of untaxed cigarettes, endangering the welfare of a child, and other crimes. Legislator Maio was not charged with sex trafficking in the original indictment.
However, in April 2021, the charges were dismissed against all five men on what Baker called a “technicality” during grand jury proceedings. Baker said the technicality came from police being present during the proceedings which are supposed to be done in secret. A NYSP investigator had pressed play on audio recordings that were being used as evidence during the hearing.
Then just over a month later, Maio, Hamilton, Comfort Sr. and Comfort Jr. were indicted again on corruption and prostitution charges. However, Michael Stratton was not re-indicted in connection to the case. All four were indicted for enterprise corruption “based on allegations that between December 2015 and December 2020 the four men had “knowledge of the existence of a criminal prostitution enterprise and being associated with such enterprise intentionally conducted or participated in the affairs of said enterprise by engaging in a pattern of criminal activity.”
Larry Comfort Sr. and Jonathan Hamilton were both charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal sale of a controlled substance, and attempted criminal sale of a controlled substance in connection to the alleged sale of cocaine on various dates in 2020. They were also both charged with sex trafficking and sex trafficking as a sexually motivated felony.
A full list of their original charges can be found here.
18 News will continue to follow any developments with this case and provide updates as they become available.