Steuben County Legislator Maio accepts plea deal in sex trafficking case, will not resign

Jeff Murray
The Leader

A Steuben County legislator implicated along with several other people in an alleged sex trafficking ring has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge.

Legislator Steven Maio, a Corning Democrat, doesn't plan on stepping down from his position despite calls from across the political spectrum for him to resign.

Maio, who was charged by New York State Police in August 2020 with soliciting a prostitute, was later indicted by a Steuben County grand jury for enterprise corruption, a felony, in connection with allegations of sex trafficking and other crimes in Steuben and Chemung counties.

In New York, enterprise corruption is defined as "the commission of a number of individual criminal acts ... by a person who is employed by or associated with a criminal enterprise."

Steven Maio

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Maio pleaded guilty to soliciting prostitution, a misdemeanor, to satisfy the charges against him, according to Steuben County District Attorney Brooks Baker.

Maio will be sentenced June 6 and faces three years of probation under the terms of his plea agreement, Baker said. He will also have to undergo counseling, Baker added.

There were calls for Maio's resignation after his prostitution arrest, and those demands continue.

"If it was me, I would have resigned the first time I got arrested," said Legislature Chairman Scott Van Etten, a Republican. "I think the voters will decide ultimately. Since there was no felony (conviction), he can't be automatically removed by state law."

It isn't just Republicans calling for Maio's resignation. The Steuben County Democratic Committee is renewing its call for Maio to step down.

"When he was charged we put out a statement, even though he was entitled to due process, because of the undue attention it was in the best interest of Steuben County and its voters that he should consider resigning," said county Democratic Committee Chairman Shawn Hogan.

Maio "committed a self-interested crime and showed awful judgment in associating with criminals," according to a new statement released by the committee.

Maio, whose current term expires at the end of 2023, defended his decision to keep his seat.

"I was charged with all sorts of things. The big question ought to be why is it the only thing it went down to was a misdemeanor," he said. "That should raise a lot of eyebrows in everybody. It's remarkable right from the start what happened. I'm not resigning."

The other defendants involved in the alleged sex trafficking ring have all entered pleas and been sentenced.

Larry Comfort Sr., of Elmira Heights, who Baker described as "the center of the whole thing," was originally indicted for enterprise corruption, along with sex trafficking, third-degree promoting prostitution, third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, criminal solicitation, conspiracy to commit murder, and other felonies.

Comfort, who along with his brother Joseph was involved in the December 1980 fatal shooting of a state police investigator in Corning, pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a controlled substance and promoting prostitution.

He was sentenced to 10 years in state prison and three years of post-release supervision.

Larry Comfort Jr., who was also originally charged with enterprise corruption, pleaded guilty to attempted promotion of prostitution and will serve six months in the Steuben County Jail, followed by five years of post-release supervision.

Jonathan F. Hamilton, of Elmira, pleaded guilty to criminal contempt and will serve 120 days in the Steuben County Jail.

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