An acting justice of the New York Supreme Court from Erie County, Court of Claims Judge John Michalski, was found dead in his Amherst home Tuesday after committing suicide, Fox News reported.
The 61-year-old judge took his own life less than two weeks after federal agents raided his home as part of an investigation into alleged tax crimes involving a small online retail business his wife Susan operated out of their home.
Michalski was also reportedly being scrutinized over his alleged connections to the mob in Buffalo, specifically his close friendship with the owner of a Buffalo-area strip club who was the son of a mob boss and under federal investigation for a host of felony crimes.
Raided by federal agents
The Buffalo News reported that Judge Michalski’s home was raided by federal agents on March 24 but neither he nor his wife were taken into custody or have been charged with any crimes.
Michalski’s friend and defense attorney, Terrence Connors, confirmed the “heartbreaking” news of the judge’s death and lamented how drastic and unnecessary it was, given that his anticipated legal woes were deemed to be “manageable.”
That said, following the March 24 raid, the judge’s pending caseload had been transferred to other judges and he was barred from any future case assignments “until further notice.” Furthermore, a state commission on judicial ethics was currently probing allegations that Michalski had accepted a bribe by receiving $5,000 to perform a wedding when state law limits payment to only $100 for such duties.
Linked to Buffalo mob
Incredibly enough, according to Fox News, it appears that this wasn’t Judge Michalski’s first attempt at committing suicide, as it is suspected that he attempted to do so in February 2021 when he reportedly laid down on railroad tracks and was run over by a freight train that left him alive but with a severely wounded leg.
That incident occurred just a few days after federal agents had questioned the judge about his friendship with Peter Gerace Jr., the long-time friend, and former client who owned the strip club. The train incident occurred on the same day that Gerace was arrested on charges related to drug and sex trafficking and bribing a federal agent of the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Michalski’s friendship with Gerace had been discovered in 2019 as federal investigators probed the alleged bribery of retired DEA agent Joseph Bongiovanni by Gerace.
However, according to the New York Post, that friendship had already been made known when, in 2006, Michalski had written a letter on behalf of Gerace successfully pleading for leniency in sentencing for a felony wire fraud conviction at that time.
The Buffalo News noted that many of Judge Michalski’s friends and colleagues expressed statements of grief and mourning at his death, and he was generally described as a caring and happy and funny guy, making his resort to suicide all the more perplexing to those who knew him.
He is survived by his wife and their four children, three daughters and a son, who will undoubtedly miss him immensely.