COURTS: Federal prosecutors say negotiations are on-going with former Falls businessman and publisher.
BUFFALO — A plea deal may be in the works for former Falls businessman Frank Parlato Jr., and his partner Chitra Selvaraj, in their federal fraud and tax obstruction trial.
Prosecutors in the office of United States Attorney for the Western District of New York Trini Ross told U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Arcara, at a Jan. 26 conference, that “plea negotiations (with attorneys for Parlato and Selvaraj) are on-going.”
As a result of that representation, Arcara set a hearing for March 23 to “set a date for trial or pleas.”
The developments follow a lengthy delay in the proceedings, prompted first by the COVID-19 pandemic and then the unavailability of most of the defense lawyers in the case. At the Jan. 26 conference, defense attorney Paul Cambria also told Arcara that the trial schedules of the defense team were now clear, allowing the 18-count superseding indictment against Parlato and Selvaraj to proceed to trial.
Federal prosecutors have frequently objected to the delays in the case.
Parlato and Selvaraj were charged in a superseding indictment handed up in May 2018. That indictment dropped a number of claims, made by prosecutors, when the pair was originally charged in 2015.
The superseding indictment alleges a conspiracy “to defraud the United States and certain members of the public,” while adding additional claims that Parlato and Selvaraj attempted to obstruct the function of the Internal Revenue Service.
Charges of wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering, and corrupt interference with the administration of the IRS laws remain in the superseding indictment.
Parlato, 62, the former owner of the One Niagara building, a local real estate developer, publisher of the Niagara Falls Reporter and editor-in-chief of the weekly newspaper ArtVoice, and Selvaraj, 41, who has functioned as the chief financial officer for Parlato’s business enterprises, have each previously pleaded not guilty to the charges contained in the indictment.