Republican faced wire fraud charge when he killed himself

ROCHESTER — Authorities say a New York lawmaker diverted about $800,000 from an escrow account for his own use before killing himself in Rochester's Riverside Cemetery earlier this year.

According to a criminal complaint unsealed Monday, Bill Nojay, who represented Hornell in the state Assembly, illegally misdirected funds from a legal client's escrow account to his re-election campaign, a lobbyist, a car dealer and his children.

Authorities say the 59-year-old Republican also used the funds to pay property taxes on his home.

Nojay shot himself Sept. 9 near his family's Rochester plot. His death came just four days before a GOP primary that he won for what would have been his second term. Nojay was facing a challenge from Honeyoe Falls Mayor Rick Milne in that Republican contest. 

Nojay faced a federal wire fraud charge when he shot himself. After Nojay's death, Milne suspended his campaign out of respect for his opponent. The chairmen of the three counties that make up the 133rd Assembly District — Livingston, Monroe and Steuben — did not rest, putting on a full-court press to convince Republican voters to give Nojay a primary victory as a last tribute. 

After Nojay won the primary with 60 percent of the vote, the party chairs chose former state Assemblyman Joseph Errigo to run for Nojay's Assembly seat. Errigo easily defeated Democrat Barbara A. Baer in the general election.

The Democrat and Chronicle filed a motion after his suicide to have the criminal complaint released.