Whole Foods developers file lawsuit against outgoing Assemblyman, others

The developers behind the Whole Foods project on Monroe Avenue in Brighton have filed a federal lawsuit against 11 people, including a New York State Assemblyman. (WHAM photo)

Brighton, N.Y. (WHAM) - The developers behind the Whole Foods project on Monroe Avenue in Brighton have filed a federal lawsuit against 11 people, including a New York State Assemblyman.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges that the bill introduced by Assemblyman Joseph Errigo at the behest of a lobbyist - both of whom were reportedly paid to craft the bill - "specifically intended to deprive [the Daniele Family Companies] of property and property interests without due process of law. As a result, the developer is seeking more than $650,000 in damages.

This stems from a federal investigation into alleged bribery involving two New York State Assemblymembers, a lobbyist and a local developer. In September 2017, federal investigators said the lobbyist and developer wanted to introduce a piece of legislation in the Assembly that would benefit the developer.

MORE: Exclusive interview: Gantt denies involvement, knowledge in alleged Errigo bribery case

Over the next several months, Errigo and the lobbyist were paid approximately $10,500. Errigo allegedly accepted approximately $5,500 of the bribe money, according to investigators. The federal lawsuit filed Tuesday states that the Danieles believe "the individual who paid the bribes to" Errigo was former Monroe County Democratic staffer Joseph Rittler.

Court paperwork states that at some time in late 2017, Rittler told an uninvolved third-party that he was “doing work in opposition to the Whole Foods project.” The Danieles admit in the lawsuit that they do not know the exact date on which this conversation allegedly happened.

Joseph Errigo was arrested on October 10 and was charged with bribery and wire fraud.

Robert Scott Gaddy, a well-known lobbyist in New York, was also charged by federal prosecutors in connection to the investigation. Gaddy is not listed in the lawsuit filed on Tuesday. He is expected to be back in federal court on December 18.

Developer Anthony Daniele issued a statement in response to the lawsuit being filed on Wednesday.

We have reason to believe there is more to this story that may lead back to those funding the opposition to the Whole Foods Plaza project, and we intend to get to the bottom of it.

13WHAM News will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.

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