BOROUGHWIDE — Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis said she moved swiftly to fire a newly hired aide after the employee was arrested Thursday for allegedly being part of a shocking mob-related scheme on Staten Island involving fixing college basketball games.
The aide, Benjamin Bifalco, 25, of Staten Island, had worked for Malliotakis for less than three weeks.
He was among 20 defendants named in a federal indictment announced by Richard Donoghue, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Bifalco was indicted on a charge of attempted sports bribery.
Malliotakis, a Republican who represents parts of Bay Ridge and Staten Island, said Bifalco had been hired on Sept. 16 to work in her Staten Island office and that she gave him the boot as soon as she learned of his arrest.
“Thursday afternoon, I was informed that a new member of my Assembly staff, who was just hired on September 16, 2019, was indicted by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. He was active in local politics, planning to apply to law school and was recommended to me by a number of people. I am shocked and saddened by this news,” Malliotakis told the Home Reporter in an email on Friday.
“I have zero tolerance for criminal activity and he was dismissed from my staff effective Thursday, Oct 3, 2019,” Malliotakis added.
Malliotakis, who was first elected to the Assembly in 2010, has decided to forgo running for re-election in 2020. She is running to try to defeat Democratic U.S. Rep. Max Rose in New York’s 11th Congressional District next year. The district covers the entire borough of Staten Island and takes in parts of Southwest Brooklyn.
Bifalco was caught on wiretaps allegedly filling in a co-defendant on a scheme to pay members of a Division I college basketball team thousands of dollars to lose a game intentionally, according to Donoghue. The basketball team was not named in the indictment.
The Staten Island Advance was the first to report on the aide’s arrest.