A New York state judge whose home was raided by law enforcement last month amid federal charges against one of his former clients killed himself on Tuesday, one said. of his lawyers.

The judge, John L. Michalski, acting judge of the state Supreme Court, was found dead at his home in Amherst, NY, a suburb of Buffalo, shortly before noon, attorney Terrence Connors said.

“It’s hard to explain how tragic this is,” said Mr. Connors, a longtime friend of Judge Michalski, adding that “it would be hard to find a more respected judge” in the legal community. from western New York.

Amherst police were unable to provide information about Judge Michalski’s death on Tuesday evening. Early Wednesday, Lucian Chalfen, spokesman for the state justice system, said police had notified authorities of Judge Michalski’s death. Mr. Chalfen referred further questions to the police. Justice Michalski was appointed to the Court of Claims in 2006 and as an acting Supreme Court Justice the same year, according to his official biography.

The death of Judge Michalski, at 61, came just over a year after another apparent suicide attempt in which, according to police records, he was hit by a freight train after crashing. lying on the rails of a rail yard near Buffalo in the middle of the day. He suffered a serious leg injury but was not otherwise injured, Mr Connors said.

The episode prompted him to take a leave of absence from his $210,900 a year seat on the bench. He returned to work in January after meeting all the requirements to do so and had started taking on a full caseload, Mr Connors said.

But last month, Judge Michalski faced renewed scrutiny and his cases were again reassigned, after federal and state investigators raided his home. He hadn’t been charged with any crime, but he had come to the attention of authorities because of his ties to Peter Gerace Jr., the owner of a strip club in Cheektowaga, another Buffalo suburb.

Last year, Mr. Gerace was charged in federal court in Florida with sex trafficking, drug distribution and bribery of a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent. He denies the charges and the case has since been transferred to the Western District of New York.

The former agent, Joseph Bongiovanni, was charged with bribery, obstruction and conspiracy. An indictment detailing the charges against the two men says Mr Bongiovanni’s associates included people “he believed to be members of, connected to or associated with” organized crime.

Another man identified in the indictment as having ties to organized crime is Michael Masecchia, a longtime Buffalo schoolteacher who now faces life in prison after pleading guilty to firearms charges and drug.

The episode in which Judge Michalski was hit by the train happened on the same day that Mr Gerace was charged. At the time, another lawyer for Judge Michalski told The Buffalo News that federal authorities had contacted the judge two weeks earlier to ask questions about Mr Gerace.

The relationship between the men dates back decades, when the judge was in private practice and doing legal work for Mr Gerace’s club, lawyer Anthony J. Lana told The News.

In 2006, The News reported, Judge Michalski wrote a letter to a federal judge asking for a lenient sentence for Mr. Gerace, who had been convicted of wire fraud in a sweepstakes telemarketing scheme. In the letter, The News reported, the judge said he and Mr Gerace had been friends for a decade.

Mr. Connors said Tuesday that Judge Michalski, the Amherst City Attorney and Erie County Assistant District Attorney earlier in his career, had “advised authorities on multiple occasions that he had no knowledge of Mr. Gerace’s allegedly illegal activities. ”

“He was a client,” Mr Connors said of the relationship between the men. Based on information contained in search warrants executed at Judge Michalski’s home last month, he added, investigators appeared to be focused on an online business that the judge’s wife ran from her home selling clothes on consignment.

“If they had called me and asked what they were looking for, we would have given it to them,” Mr Connors said. “We would have cooperated the same way we have cooperated throughout.”

The judge was also investigated by the state attorney general’s office for possible bribery, according to a person familiar with the matter. No charges had been brought against him during the investigation.

Judge Michalski’s professional and personal behavior, including his mental state during and after last year’s apparent suicide attempt, was also being reviewed by the state Commission on Judicial Ethics, an independent agency that investigates misconduct allegations involving New York judges.

The commission’s investigation, according to The News, focused on accusations that he received $5,000 for performing Mr Gerace’s wedding in 2014 – well above the $100 allowed by law. the state.

Mr Connors predicted Judge Michalski would be widely mourned in the days to come.

“I can’t tell you how many calls I got today,” he said. “People are just in shock.”

Kirsten Noyes contributed to the research.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources. here is what you can do when a loved one is severely depressed.