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Leonard Stokes has a history of legal trouble

Byron Brown recently called Leonard Stokes a "young man with promise."

Authorities have been calling him "trouble" for quite some time.

Either city officials didn't know, or didn't care, about his history of legal troubles when they gave him $110,000 in loans and grants and encouraged the Erie County Industrial Development Agency to kick another $50,000 his way to help finance the now-notorious One Sunset restaurant.

Pat Lakamp and I first broke the One Sunset story in May and we've been peeling the layers of that onion since then with a lot of help from Brian Meyer.

In today's Buffalo News, I report the hot water Stokes has continually found himself in since 2006 -- before, during and after city and county officials opened the public vault for him.

Just Wednesday, he turned himself in on a noncriminal charge involving an altercation earlier this year with a woman he fathered a child with.

Last year, he was charged with pulling a gun on someone during an argument and he lost his driver's license for failing to make child support payments.

The Department of Motor Vehicles has suspended his auto registration four times after he let his insurance lapse and he was charged during one of the suspension periods for driving anyway.

No surprise there. His license was suspended late last year, but it didn't stop Stokes from driving up in a big, black Cadillac for an interview with Pat and me this spring.

Then there is the mother of all run-ins with the law, at least from a public relations perspective, when police detained him for using a stolen handicapped parking permit that somehow ended up with a trip to the mayor's office.

Sources tell us that Stokes told police he wanted the permit because, as an athlete, he's not accustomed to walking long distances.

This from a 6-foot, 6-inch, basketball star.

No wonder the cops were peeved.

Brown is continuing to insist the controversy surrounding the Stokes visit to his office is "dirty politics" and that he never went out of his way to help Stokes obtain city funding for the restaurant or treated him any different than any other fledgling entrepreneur.

But Scott Brown of WGRZ TV offered this interesting tid-bit in his report yesterday -- Stokes knows Brown's cell phone number.

Reported Brown, the Red Coat:

A source tells '2 On Your Side' that while Stokes was being questioned about where he got the sticker, he told a detective that he knew the mayor, and gave the officer the mayor's cell phone number.

Shortly after that, Stokes was taken to City Hall.

A show of hands, people, how many of you have the mayor's cell phone number?


I didn't think so.

On a related front, Geoff Kelly of Artvoice has a really good analysis of the mayoral primary. It's well worth the read.

My colleagues Sue Schulman and Brian Meyer also have an update on the latest developments in the parking permit controversy.


City Hall | One Sunset
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