Niagara Gazette

Courts

January 22, 2013

Bax pleads guilty to taking 'gratuities'

Niagara Gazette — BUFFALO — As he walked past a pair FBI agents in the hallway outside a courtroom in U.S. District Court in Buffalo on Tuesday, Guy Bax nodded at them and said, "Good morning."

Swept up in the federal law enforcement investigation of Falls plumbing contractor John Gross, Bax was about to become the second, and likely final, target of the probe to plead guilty to a crime.

"His cooperation began very early," said defense attorney Terrence Connors of his client's familiarity with the FBI. "Guy was interviewed several times in the beginning of the Gross investigation."

Connors said Bax continued to cooperate with the FBI probe of corruption in the Falls, even as he knew he would likely be charged in the case. Then, in a deal with federal prosecutors, Bax agreed to waive being indicted by a grand jury and pled guilty to a single count of accepting illegal gratuities from Gross during his time as the Falls' acting director of the Department of Inspections.

"His early cooperation made (the plea deal) his best opportunity for closure." Connors said. "He is full of remorse and feels bad for the city."

Bax admitted that between 2007 and January 2009, when federal agents raided Gross' Niagara Street business headquarters, he would routinely steer business to the three-time federal felon. Specifically, the one time inspections chief admitted that in promoting Gross' business he would create the perception that it would be in a developer's best interest "to use Gross and his company and that if (they did that), they would have an easier time obtaining approvals (for permits) they sought."

Bax's plea agreement with prosecutors outlines an incident in fall 2007, when he met with a developer who was looking to convert a piece of property for a new business venture in the Falls. Bax provided the the individual, referred to as "Business Person 1", with copies of the city's constriction codes and said, "You have to know the right people" to complete the development.

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