Numerous complaints have been made to the Commission on Judicial Conduct concerning the judicial oddities and financial dealings in and about the Niagara County's Surrogate's Court. But the highly troubling affairs around the upstate Surrogate's Court appear to continue as usual, ignored by the 'ethics' group headed by Robert Tembeckjian. It appears that judicial ethics oversight has more to do with misplaced $20-dollar-bills by part-time village justices than the organized theft of millions by favored statewide insiders.
The Niagara Gazette by Mark Scheer - May 1, 2009
— The attorney for Niagara County Treasurer David Broderick told a judge Friday that his client wants to continue to oversee an estate that has brought his office under intense scrutiny in recent months. Broderick’s attorney George Muscato told Niagara County Judge Matthew Murphy that he intends to file a formal objection by May 15 to a motion that would allow the son of the late Marian Snyder to assume control of the remainder of his mother’s estate. While during a previous court hearing on the matter, Muscato suggested Broderick might agree with such an arrangement, on Friday he told the judge he did not believe it would be appropriate for the court to remove Broderick at this time because the majority of the affairs in the Snyder matter had been settled. Murphy agreed to give Muscato until the court-imposed deadline for filing the necessary paperwork but indicated that he is inclined to allow Snyder’s son, John “Jack” Snyder, to oversee his mother’s estate in the future. “By making the determination I’m not pre-judging any claims about Mr. Broderick’s handling of the estate,” Murphy said.
Under the law, the Niagara County treasurer as the county’s top fiscal officer is designated as the public administrator of estates. Snyder’s daughter, Amherst attorney Teresa Snyder, has filed several objections against Broderick in the handling of her mother’s affairs. Snyder maintains Broderick violated state law governing the duties of public administrators by allowing his wife, Jane, to serve as the real estate agent on several properties under his care, including the Snyder family home in Lewiston. Teresa Snyder has strongly objected to what she says was an attempt on the Brodericks’ park to sell her mother’s home to one of their relatives. State court rules designed to insulate the offices of public administrators from the appearance of any impropriety bar anyone serving in that capacity from self-dealing and from hiring their relatives as outside vendors. In addition to her objections in court, Teresa Snyder also has sent letters to the attorney for the state Office of Court Administration and the Office of Inspector General, encouraging officials to investigate Broderick’s public administrator work. Earlier this month, Murphy and fellow county Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza sent a letter to the state Comptroller’s Office requesting an audit. The Niagara County Legislature has endorsed their decision. Muscato has denied all charges of wrongdoing against his client, insisting that he has done nothing unethical or illegal in his capacity as public administrator. On Friday, Teresa Snyder also submitted objections to the court for the amount of legal fees charged to her mother’s estate by Muscato and three other attorneys involved in the case. Murphy has scheduled an August hearing for the remaining unresolved matters in the case. On Friday, he offered to work with both sides in an effort to reach some sort of settlement. The Snyders and Muscato indicated they would be willing to participate in a future settlement hearing. Muscato warned that the longer the case drags on, the higher the cost of legal work will be to the Snyder estate. “I want to get this resolved, too,” Muscato said. “We all know that when we go through hearings, there’s going to be a lot of attorney fees here.” Contact reporter Mark Scheer at firstname.lastname@example.org
BRODERICK CASE: Snyder claims to be dropped
The Niagara-Gazette by Mark Scheer - March 27, 2009
An Amherst attorney who raised questions about the conduct of Niagara County Treasurer David Broderick agreed on Friday to drop all claims she made in her family’s case after a judge said he was inclined to allow her brother to handle the remainder of her late mother’s affairs. Teresa Snyder, who has accused Broderick of overstepping his bounds as public administrator, told Judge Matthew Murphy she would withdraw her petition to have Broderick removed as the administrator of her mother’s estate if the court appointed her brother — John “Jack” Snyder — to oversee the distribution of all remaining assets. During a hearing in surrogate’s court in Lockport, Murphy announced his intention to turn the responsibilities of the estate over to Snyder’s brother, one of five siblings involved in the case. Broderick’s attorney, George Muscato, said his client would be open to such an arrangement. “I think Mr. Broderick will consent,” Muscato said
In light of the new agreement, Teresa Snyder told Murphy she planned to discontinue other actions not directly related to her mother’s estate, including requests made to outside agencies for investigations into Broderick’s conduct. Snyder has suggested that Broderick violated state law governing the duties of public administrators by allowing his wife, Jane, to serve as the real estate agent on several properties under his care, including the Snyder family home in Lewiston. Last week, Snyder sent letters to the attorney for the state Office of Court Administration and the Office of Inspector General, encouraging officials from both agencies to take a closer look at least three cases in which David Broderick was appointed as public administrator by his brother, retired Judge Peter Broderick, and a third brother, Niagara Falls attorney William Broderick, served as the administrator’s lawyer. Public administrators oversee estates in which the owners have died without leaving wills or the heirs are unable or unwilling to tend the affairs themselves. State court rules designed to insulate the offices of public administrators from the appearance of any impropriety bar anyone serving in that capacity from self-dealing and from hiring their relatives as outside vendors. Under the law, the Niagara County treasurer as the county’s top fiscal officer is designated as the public administrator of estates. Following Friday’s court proceeding, Snyder said it will now be up to the various oversight agencies to determine if any wrongdoing occurred. She added that as a practicing attorney she felt obligated to adhere to the rules of professional responsibility and report what she found during the course of her research. “Conflicts of interest should not occur and they did,” she said. Her brother agreed. “I believe that the use of (Broderick’s) wife is self dealing,” he said. David Broderick and Peter Broderick could not be reached for comment.
Muscato has dismissed Snyder’s claims and insists his client has done nothing illegal or unethical in his capacity as public administrator. When asked about allegations concerning the Broderick brothers, Muscato said his knowledge of surrogate’s court cases involving his client was limited only to the Snyder matter. “This is not about any other estates,” Muscato said. “It’s about only this estate.” Reached by telephone Friday afternoon, William Broderick said he did not recall any instances in which he appeared before his brother Peter on estate cases or any other matters. He indicated that any dealings he had in surrogate’s court were assigned to other judges. “It was my recollection that I never appeared before my brother Peter on anything,” he said. Earlier this month, Murphy and fellow county Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza sent a letter to the state Comptroller’s Office requesting an audit of Broderick’s work as public administrator. The Niagara County Legislature has endorsed their decision. On Friday, Murphy indicated he did not believe county surrogate’s court was the proper venue to address any outside claims and said he intended to rule only on matters related to the Snyder case. “Surrogate’s court is a court of limited jurisdiction,” Murphy said.
Before hearing arguments in the case, Murphy addressed what he called a “complaint” about his handling of the Snyder matter that he said Teresa Snyder filed against him with the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct. Murphy said he did consider recusing himself from the Snyder case, but, after conferring with colleagues, determined that it was best for him to continue as the presiding judge. Murphy said he held no ill will against Snyder or anyone else in the case. “I believe I can be fair to all the parties in this matter,” Murphy said. After the hearing, Snyder denied ever making a formal complaint about Murphy to the commission, although she indicated that she did have some interaction with the agency which oversees the conduct of judges across the state. Snyder added that the commission’s dealings were confidential before declining further comment. Next up in the Snyder case will be a formal review of the accounting of the estate filed by Broderick. The treasurer has requested more than $15,000 in commission for his work on the estate. Muscato indicated that his client has no intention of withdrawing his claim and said he believes Broderick is entitled to the money. Murphy set aside three days in August to hear arguments from both sides before he renders a decision on the appropriateness of the fee. John Snyder he has not yet decided whether to contest Broderick’s fee and would discuss the matter with his siblings before making a determination.
CLICK HERE TO SEE TEMBECKJIAN'S CRIMES, PART 1 - "Robert Tembeckjian, $40 Million and Misprison of Felony"