A technical flaw in the Steuben County’s grand jury proceedings that led to comprehensive indictments against five men, including a lawmaker, in a sex trafficking company was dismissed by a judge. However, the prosecution plans to resubmit the charges.
The charges against Larry Comfort Sr. – one of two brothers linked to the death of a state police investigator in 1980 – were brought up by the judge Tuesday along with Steuben County legislature Steven Maio and three other men of the Supreme Court, Thomas E. Moran, dismissed. The men were charged with corporate corruption, sex trafficking and promoting prostitution, among other things.
The technique that led to the dismissal said Steuben District Attorney Brooks Baker was traced back to a New York police officer who testified before the grand jury about his own role in the investigation, but was also in the room to testify Play audio clip from other witnesses.
Baker said this was a “de facto bias and warrant dismissal of the charges,” but the prosecutor’s office plans to refer the case to another grand jury within 45 days.
The technical defect was not asserted by any of the defendants’ attorneys, according to Baker. Instead, Moran, who is the judge handling the case, discovered him during his own grand jury inspection.
“The judge (Moran) didn’t say the evidence was insufficient, just that a defect occurred,” Baker said Thursday. “So we’ll take the case to a big jury and see how the big jury votes.”
More about the case: How an investigation led to sex trafficking charges, Steuben County’s legislature arrested
Moran allowed all previously issued protection orders against the five defendants to stand. Larry Comfort Sr. will remain in Steuben County Jail without bail. Maio, Larry Comfort Jr., Jonathan Hamilton and Michael Stratton have already been released on bail and pleaded not guilty.
The first indictment, which was unsealed in December and contained a total of 34 charges, related to the sex trafficking company that had been operating in the Steuben and Chemung counties for more than five years.
The investigation began after New York State Police received a lead on suspected sex trafficking in Steuben County. This caused investigators to spend hundreds of hours monitoring and questioning witnesses in order to gather enough evidence for a grand jury.
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