Steve Pigeon Complaint Reveals Details of Alleged Illegal Baazov Contribution to Cuomo Campaign
Flushdraw returns today to the story of the federal indictment handed down last week against New York State political operative G. Steve Pigeon, who has been accused of helping to orchestrate an illegal campaign contribution from the embattled former CEO of Canada’s Amaya Gaming, David Baazov.
As we reported last week, Pigeon was indicted on charges of facilitating an illegal campaign donation and conspiracy, in connection with a $25,000 donation from in 2014 from Baazov to the election campaign of NY Governor Andrew Cuomo. After repeated attemtps to get the donation from Baazov and Amaya to Cuomo’s coffers, Pigeon and Baazov enlisted the help of Amaya’s new general counsel at that time, Marlon Goldstein.
Goldstein, a Canadian citizen who at the time had permanent-resident status in Florida, was legally eligible to make such a campaign contribution, while Baazov himself was not. However, using such a construct to evade US federal law regarding foreign contributions is every bit as illegal. Pigeo could face five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
The whole Baazov donation scheme emerged indirectly, as a result of ongoing investigations into other alleged improprieties by Pigeon. Following last week’s report, Flushdraw obtained the full federal complaint against Pigeon. In the “Probable Cause” section of that complaint, prosecutors lay out their argument for how Pigeon, Baazov and others conspired to find a channel to get the $25,000 from Baazov to Cuomo’s campaign.
Here’s an excerpt from that complaint. Pigeon is the only person directly named. However, “Person A” already has been determined to be Baazov, while “Person B” refers to Goldstein. References to “Danny” in the chat texts reproduced below almost certainly refer to Amaya’s outgoing chief financial officer, Daniel Sebag.
15. In early 2014 PIGEON, Person A and Person B orchestrated a $25,000 donation from Person A — a foreign national — to Public Officiial A [identified as Cuomo].
16. On January 31, 2014, the finance director and the managing director for Public Official A’s reelection campaign sent multiple emails to PIGEON regarding an invitation to “Dinner and Conversation with [Public Official A].” The event was scheduled for February 26, 2014. One of the emails provided that “(s)eats are 25 k per couple.”
17. Later the same day, PIGEON forwarded the “25 k per couple” email to Person A.
18. The following day, February 1, 2014, Person A responded to PIGEON:
Put me down for a couple.
19. PIGEON then emailed the finance director and the managing director of the campaign and stated:
Please put me down for. 25 . . .
The 25 is. different client From Montreal but has American company in Long Island[.]
20. On February 11, 2014, PIGEON again emailed the finance director regarding the event:
Need wiring info
The finance director responded:
Thanks Steve — here is the info
PIGEON forwarded the email to Person A and stated:
[Person A] here is wiring info
Please let me know when it goes out
Event two weeks from tomorrow 26th of this month
21. The next day, on February 12, 2014, Person A forwarded the email regarding the wire to two individuals at Company A [identified as Amaya] and wrote:
pls see email below and make sure it is in my calendar to be in NYC. As well, Danny, I will be making a donation 😉 of 25k USD.
22. On February 13, 2014, the managing director of the reelection campaign for Public Official A emailed PIGEON and asked:
Did you get the wire from [Company A]?
Yes they got the info
23. PIGEON then forwarded the original email from the managing director asking whether PIGEON “g[o]t the wire from [Company A] to [Person A]” and stated:
Let me know when u do it
Person A responded to PIGEON and a third party [believed to be Sebag]:
Danny, pls send a copy of the wire conf of 25k usd to Steve
The money should not go to me
It needs to be wired to [Person A’s] campaign
Person A responded:
It is. It is being sent to the wire info you sent for the campaign
24. During the email exchange with Person A, PIGEON received an email from the managing director of the campaign stating:
They wired from a corp so we can not accept it Needs to be an llc[.]
25. PIGEON then emailed Person A and stated:
Oh. Just sent you the email Can’t be corporate must be LLC Or personal under state law. I told him I would get hold of u[.]
26. The following day, February 14, 2014, Person A emailed PIGEON stating:
Steve I sent the wire personally this time
27. Later the same day, the managing director of the campaign sent an email to PIGEON stating:
We got a wire from [Person A]. Is he an American citizen?
No. They do have a guy at [Company B] who is perm resident and donates yearly. Based in Atlanta.
28. Continuing on February 14, PIGEON addressed the citizen requirement with Person A via email:
Needs to be an American citizen or American partnership or LLC
Person A responded:
Wow! So now I’ve wired twice and it will be returned? ok
Sorry should have told u Thought u knew must be US citizen to give.
29. That same day, February 14, 2014, Person A forwarded the invitation to the campaign event for Public Official A to Person B and stated:
Lets discuss I need to you to send 25usd J[.]
Person B responded:
Ofcourse. Need me to attend?
30. One week later, on February 21, 2014, Person A emailed Person B again regarding the donation.
Person A wrote:
[Person B] please wire 25k as contribution to [Public Official A’s] campaign.
Person B responded:
Will do. Do you have the wire instructions?
Person A responded and included a third party [likely Sebag]:
I thought I did before. Danny pls ask Sam to send to [Person B]
31. On February 23, 2014, Person A again emailed Person B regarding the campaign donation:
Did you wire the 25k?
32. On February 24, 2014, Person B emailed Person A and wrote:
I sent the wire for 25k this morning.
Person A forwarded the email to PIGEON and wrote:
Fyi on below.
33. That same day, Person B requested reimbursement from Company A for the donation by submitting the wire record for the 25,000.
… [campaign event occurs] …
37. On February 28, 2014, after consulting with a lawyer, Person B directed individuals at Company A not to process his request for reimbursement for the $25,000 donation. Person B followed up with an email in which he stated:
Guys, As discussed, please do not process a reimbursement for the $25k contribution I personally made to the [Public Official A] campaign.
38. During an interview on April 25, 2017, given pursuant to a proffer agreement, Person B admitted that he sent the email above only after making the donation fully expecting to be reimbursed, and only because he had consulted with an attorney based on his uneasiness with the entire transaction. Person B also confirmed that he made the donation because Person A [Baazov] asked him to do so.
The excerpt above also supports the contention offered last week by Pigeon’s defense attorney that Pigeon himself was being singled out for unexplained reasons. The chats and emails can easily be interpreted to support the contention that officials at both Amaya and within Cuomo’s campaign were complicit in finding a way for Canadian citizen Baazov to make that $25,000 donation to an American gubernatorial candidate.
We’ll have more on this case in a future report.