On Friday, New Yorkers learned of Rochester Assemblyman Bill Nojay’s suicide. Condolences go out to his family, friends and constituents. We never really know someone or the secrets he holds.

Local newspapers are reporting that AM Nojay was to be criminally charged by federal prosecutors in connection with an alleged embezzlement of $1.8 million from an account he handled for a longtime client and friend, architect Carlton "Bud" DeWolff. In addition, other sources have confirmed that Nojay was implicated along with two others in the alleged swindle of a wealthy Cambodian doctor and there was a local school modernization inquiry involving a company owned by the assemblyman.

Wow. Perhaps, the burden of those secret dealings got the best of Bill Nojay.

Assemblyman Bill Nojay faced federal fraud charge | Gannett.com
Gary Craig and Steve Orr, September 9, 2016

Assemblyman Bill Nojay, who died by suicide Friday morning, had been scheduled to appear Friday in U.S. District Court to face fraud-related charges connected to a trust fund he handled as an attorney, according to sources familiar with the case.

Before the scheduled court appearance, Nojay contacted his lawyer via text message and said he planned to take his life, the sources say.

The attorney contacted police, who went to Riverside Cemetery, where Nojay fatally shot himself before police could intervene.

Nojay has been at the middle of various controversies recently. He was a silent partner in a company that won a tentative contract to oversee the second phase of the $1.3 billion Rochester schools modernization project. And he was one of four defendants in a fraud trial in Cambodia, where Nojay and three other men formed a company to process and export rice. The four were accused of obtaining a $1 million investment from a wealthy Cambodian, then shutting the company down.

While multiple media outlets Friday linked Nojay’s criminal charge to either the school modernization or the Cambodia project, the Cambodian case had nothing to do with it. And while agents reportedly found the alleged fraud as an offshoot of an investigation into the modernization program, the criminal charge had nothing to do with that matter, either.

Instead, Nojay was to be criminally charged in connection with the alleged embezzlement of $1.8 million from an account he handled for a longtime client and friend, architect Carlton "Bud" DeWolff said Friday afternoon.

In interviews conducted this spring, the two said they’d known each other for 30 years. Nojay had acted as legal counsel to DeWolff from time to time, and DeWolff had done architectural work for several organizations on whose boards Nojay sat.

DeWolff said he was devastated by Nojay’s death. "I’m still in shock," he said Friday afternoon. "He was always an upstanding person."

The federal fraud charge was sealed Friday morning, and has yet to be unsealed.

Criminal complaints and indictments are sometimes sealed and not released publicly with an agreement that the accused will appear in court. Then, in court, the criminal charge is unsealed and becomes public.

However, with Nojay never formally charged in court, it is unclear whether the complaint will be unsealed.


Michael Benjamin
Filed from my Samsung S6