Judge dies at 61 after feds raid his home

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A judge in Erie County, New York, killed himself Tuesday, less than two weeks after a raid on his home by federal and state investigators.

Judge John L. Michalski, 61, of the New York State Supreme Court, died Tuesday at his home in Amherst, New York, according to his lawyer, Terrence M. Connors. Michalski was a judge on New York’s trial-level supreme court.

The Buffalo News, the New York Times and WGRZ were among the publications with coverage.

Connors told the Buffalo News that Michalski was “such a good guy,” and his legal troubles were “manageable.” Another friend of Michalski’s, lawyer Michael A. Benson, told the publication that Michalski was a family man who was “a wonderful friend with a heart of gold.”

No reason was given for the March 24 raid, but law enforcement agencies have been investigating Michalski’s relationship with the owner of a strip club, Peter Gerace Jr. Michalski had represented Gerace’s strip club before he became a judge.

Also, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct was reportedly investigating Michalski based on a complaint that he received $5,000 to officiate at Gerace’s wedding.

Another lawyer for Michalski, Anthony J. Lana, told the Buffalo News that law enforcement did not seize any records regarding Gerace or the strip club. No charges have been filed in connection with the raid.

Michalski’s cases were temporarily reassigned after the raid.

Gerace was arrested in February 2021 on charges of drug trafficking, sex trafficking and bribing a Drug Enforcement Administration agent. Gerace has denied wrongdoing. The same day as Gerace’s arrest, Michalski was injured by a slow-moving freight train when he had lain down on railroad tracks.

Michalski is survived by his wife and four children.

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