New York state Assemblyman wins primary bid after committing suicide

A matter of days before he won his primary bid to return to the New York State Assembly representing the 133rd District, Republican Assemblyman Bill Nojay took his life at a Rochester, New York, cemetery near his family plot on Friday morning with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The Pittsfield Republican’s name still appeared on Tuesday’s ballot, winning 58 percent of the vote.  GOP officials in Monroe, Livingston and Steuben counties have chosen former state Assemblyman Joe Errigo as Nojay’s replacement on the Republican ticket for November’s general election ballot.

Nojay, a two-term assemblyman was apparently distraught over mounting legal troubles related to a business venture in Cambodia in which he and three others are accused of acquiring $1 million in funds and failing to follow through with the business agreement to process and export rice from the Southeast Asian nation.

The case in a Phnom Penh, Cambodia, courtroom began in July, but was suspended over the alleged bribery of a Cambodian judge by the plaintiff.

Nojay’s legal difficulties were not limited to foreign courtrooms:  Nojay was facing a miscellany of legal battles in Pennsylvania and New York.  In addition to legal woes in Cambodia, Nojay faced fraud charges related to his silent partnership in a firm which recently secured a $1.3 billion contract to overhaul Rochester schools and had been under investigation for embezzling $1.8 million in funds from an escrow account he managed.

Authorities suspect Nojay maneuvered the firm DeWolff EPIC, in which he was a silent partner, to obtain the contract to modernize Rochester’s schools.

Nojay excluded his involvement in DeWolff EPIC from state-mandated ethics filings.

The late-Assemblyman was scheduled to appear in court Friday and had notified his attorney of his intention to commit suicide.


[Democrat & Chronicle] [Photo courtesy]