CORNING (TNS) — After a technical error that led a judge to dismiss a sweeping indictment in a Steuben County sex-trafficking case, a new set of charges was announced Tuesday against four men, one of them a sitting county legislator.
The new indictment, which was handed up by a Steuben County grand jury, includes nearly two dozen more counts than the original — 54 counts compared to the original 32 — and includes felony counts of enterprise corruption, sex trafficking and promoting prostitution.
Charged in the case are Steuben County Legislator Steven P. Maio of Corning; Larry Comfort Sr., one of two brothers linked to the 1980 shooting death of a New York State Police investigator; Larry Comfort Jr. of Elmira Heights; and Jonathon F. Hamilton of Elmira.
Steuben County District Attorney Brooks Baker said all four are charged with enterprise corruption, which means they’re accused of having knowledge of the existence of a criminal prostitution enterprise and intentionally conducting or participating in the affairs by engaging in a pattern of criminal activity between December 2015 and December 2020.
The original indictment included two counts against Maio, but Tuesday’s indictment added more charges against him, including promoting prostitution and attempting to promote prostitution.
Maio, 55, is a Democratic county legislator representing Corning and an attorney who has remained in his elected post since the charges surfaced last year. But he’s been removed from legislative committees while the case unfolds.
Baker said the new indictment also added charges against Hamilton, including criminal contempt and obstructing government administration, for allegedly engaging with a grand jury witness to prevent testimony.
In April, a judge dismissed the original 32-count indictment due to a technical issue discovered while inspecting the grand jury proceedings.
Supreme Court Justice Thomas Moran said it came down to a New York state trooper who testified before the first grand jury about his own role in the investigation but was also in the room to play an audio clip during testimony by other witnesses.
The judge’s decision didn’t question the evidence presented to the grand jury, and he allowed prosecutors to seek a new indictment.
Baker said Tuesday that the four men will return to court for arraignments after the new indictment was handed up.
Comfort Sr. is in Steuben County jail without bail. Maio, Comfort Jr. and Hamilton remain at liberty on varying court-imposed conditions and bail amounts.