On March 12, 2019, the Binghamton (NY) Press & Sun-Bulletin reported that a local man named Michael P. Pinco had been indicted by a Broome County grand jury and charged with felony counts of third-degree grand larceny and third-degree insurance fraud. The indictment followed Pinco’s October 2018 arrest, when the New York State Department of Financial Services Criminal Investigation Unit accused him of “faking a report about a diamond ring going missing” and collecting over $28,000 on a fraudulent insurance claim.
Three months later, on June 20, 2019, the Finger Lakes Times published a front-page article entitled “Live from Geneva, it’s ‘Brooklyn Mike.'” In the story, reporter Mike Hibbard relayed the tale of a former aeronautical engineer and longtime disc jockey named Mike Pinco, who had recently moved to the City of Geneva from the Binghamton, NY area and started an online radio station.
Hibbard’s article never mentioned Pinco’s indictments.
By the end of 2020, Pinco had positioned himself as a de facto spokesperson for City residents who opposed City Council’s efforts to establish a Police Accountability Board. In 2021, he founded a group called “Geneva United,” and organized two online fundraisers that have generated a total of $8,166 to date. Pinco has formed friendly, public relationships with members of the Geneva Police Department and other local officials, and has announced that he’s considering a run for Council or mayor in 2022.
Pinco is also the subject of an active investigation by the Otsego County District Attorney for allegedly collecting disability payments while continuing to work.
So who is Mike Pinco, aka “DJ Brooklyn Mike?” And what ever happened with his two-felony indictment from 2019?
The following Geneva Believer investigation utilized FOIL requests, news reports, interviews, and publicly available court documents to help answer these questions for the people of Geneva.
Mike Pinco did not respond to emailed requests for comment.
2015-2016: “What A Perfect Marriage”
In July 2015, Mike and Rose Pinco purchased Danel Bridal Salon in Endicott, NY, becoming the third owners in the history of the shop, which opened in 1959. The couple, who were married two years prior, purchased the business from their neighbors Cindy and Tom Rogers (The Rogers Group), who lived about five houses down the street from the Pincos in Vestal, NY.
According to Mike Pinco in a November 1, 2015 Press & Sun-Bulletin piece by Ann Nguyen, it wasn’t long after Rose began working as a manager at Danel Bridal Salon that the Rogers Group offered to sell the business to the Pincos:
“During the period from February (2015) we were approached by Cindy Rogers of the Rogers Group and said “would you guys want to buy the store?” We thought about it and thought “wow what a perfect marriage between the DJ service and wedding bridal business”. Most of the DJ work is about weddings, 90 percent of it was weddings.”
On July 15, 2015, The Rogers Group officially sold the Danel Bridal Shop business to All Occasion Music Inc. (Mike Pinco’s DJ business). Pinco agreed to begin monthly payments of around $1,000 total on two promissory notes, and to collect and pay the Rogers Group for all remaining customer balances from prior to July 15, 2015.
According to an affidavit from Cindy Rogers, the July 15 meeting at the attorney’s office to complete the sale was disrupted by the Pincos before it even began.
“When I arrived at the Attorney’s office, my husband and our Attorney, Paul Hoffmann, met me in the hall, and advised that Mr. and Mrs. Pinco were extremely upset and agitated because allegedly I had advised an employee who was going to remain with the store that she should assert a disability claim for a non-work-related injury. Since I never made any such statement nor advised the employee to file for disability, I became agitated myself, and it was agreed that it would be best if I remained in a separate conference room rather than “get into it” with Mr. and Mrs. Pinco.”
According to court documents, the Pincos made all their payments on time to the Rogers Group in the first few months after purchasing the business.
Then, in the Fall of 2015, the Rogers Group claimed that “payments on the customer balances owed for merchandise sold prior to July 15, 2015 slowed,” while the Pincos assured Rogers Group that they were “working on the matter.” Weeks passed and the Rogers Group stated that the Pincos “began to withhold or delay the turnover of customer balance payments and despite numerous promises to address the same, it did not occur.”
And at least one online review from late 2015 indicates that the business may have been having other issues as well:
Several months went by and the Rogers Group continued to press the Pincos about the missing customer balance payments.
Then, court documents state that in late March or early April 2016, the Pincos accused the Rogers Group of violating a non-competition agreement and failing to disclose unpaid debts for the shop, among other complaints. The Rogers Group said this was the first time the Pincos had expressed any such concerns.
The Pincos also stopped making monthly payments to the Rogers Group.
In addition, the Pincos stopped paying their quarterly state taxes around this time, beginning with the period ending 5/31/16 (which would eventually result in a $15,830.14 tax judgment against Pinco in July 2018).
On July 8, 2016, The Rogers Group filed a complaint in Broome County court against the Pincos.
Some reviews from 2016 indicate continued customer service issues at the shop:
Court documents show that the Pincos made several serious accusations against the Rogers Group that evidence later indicated were unfounded. Among those accusations:
- They claimed that the Rogers Group donated inventory to a local opera group, violating the Covenant Not To Compete, and also suggested that a neighbor of the Rogers was one of the two individuals seen dropping off the donated garments at the theater. It was later discovered that the donation came from another area bridal shop with no involvement of the Rogers or their neighbor.
- They claimed that the Rogers Group failed to disclose three outstanding debts for the salon. The Rogers Group provided documentation that they were up-to-date on two of the accounts, while the third “account” ($6,408 owed to the “Marketing Services & Business Administration”) was actually a common Yellow Pages marketing scam well known to the Federal Trade Commission.
- They claimed “The IRS also had monetary action against Danel Bridal.” The Rogers Group stated that they went through a routine audit by the IRS a few months after selling the store, with no irregularities found and “no monetary action or monies owed or paid to the IRS following the audit.”
As the court case between the Rogers and the Pincos moved forward, Mike Pinco had an idea.
Around September 13, 2016, Mike Pinco emailed State Farm Insurance, falsely claiming that his wife’s diamond ring had gone missing. A check in the amount of $28,681 was sent by US Mail from the insurance company to Pinco.
And on September 20, 2016, Mike Pinco cashed and deposited the $28,681 insurance check into an Empower Federal Credit Union account.
2017 – 2019: “Divorces Are Nasty”
On February 9 2017, State Supreme Court Justice Ferris D. Lebous ruled in favor of the Rogers Group, and the Pincos were ordered to pay a judgment totaling over $73,000, followed by a second judgment on March 21 for over $12,000.
The Pincos continued to operate the bridal shop through 2017.
Then, in the Fall of 2017, Mike Pinco had an idea.
On November 3, 2017, Mike and Rose Pinco filed a complaint in Broome County Court alleging that Rose Pinco was permanently injured when the rental car she was driving was rear-ended by another vehicle. The accident had occurred exactly two years prior, on November 3, 2015, and the Pincos were seeking monetary damages. The case went on for several years until February 2020, when both sides agreed to end the case “without costs to either party as against the other.”
2018 would prove to be an eventful year for “DJ Brooklyn Mike” Pinco.
Around June 2018, according to Pinco, he moved into his new girlfriend’s home in Geneva, about six months after they met.
In July 2018, Pinco was hit with a $15,830.14 state tax judgment for unpaid quarterly business taxes from 2016 and 2017.
In August 2018, Mike and Rose Pinco began divorce proceedings.
In October 2018, Michael Pinco was charged and arrested on felony counts of third-degree grand larceny and third-degree insurance fraud. The charges were filed in Vestal Town Court by the state Department of Financial Services Criminal Investigations Unit, accusing Pinco of “faking a report about a diamond ring going missing and collecting (over $28,000) on a fraudulent insurance claim he submitted to State Farm in 2016.”
Five months later, on March 12, 2019, Mike Pinco was indicted by a Broome County grand jury on two felony charges: third-degree grand larceny and third-degree insurance fraud. Pinco pleaded not guilty to both charges.
Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl, who prosecuted Pinco’s case, provided Geneva Believer with the following information in an email.
According to D.A. Muehl, “On September 20, 2016, Pinco put a claim in with his insurance company for his wife’s diamond ring that he claimed was stolen. He was paid $28,681. Later, he took the ring down south and had the diamond removed from the ring and put into another setting which his wife wore. However, when their relationship went south, she told the police about his scam. It was easy to prove that the diamond was not lost as he claimed as the diamond had a serial number and it matched the serial number of the diamond in the “new” ring.”
“On July 3, 2019, Pinco entered a guilty plea to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony and sentencing was adjourned to allow him to make restitution,” Muehl continued. “The judge agreed, due to Pinco’s lack of prior criminal history, to consider reducing his conviction if he made restitution.”
Mike Pinco published the following comments on his website in March 2021:
“In summary concerning my indictment in Binghamton, it was just that, and it all had to do with a divorce I was going through. In the end, the disposition was nothing more than basically a ticket…If anyone has been involved in a divorce, very few are amicable and people are familiar that divorces are nasty and people do things to each other…”
But the District Attorney who prosecuted Pinco disagrees.
“On January 10, 2020, Pinco appeared for sentencing and, as he had made full restitution, his conviction was reduced to Petit Larceny, a class A misdemeanor,” said D.A. Muehl. “As such, he has a permanent criminal record. He did not get convicted of the equivalent of a traffic ticket.”
2020-2021: “This Is What Brooklyn Mike Does”
On July 17, 2020 a photo was posted on the Facebook page for the Aeneas McDonald Police Benevolent Association (comprised of members of the Geneva Police Department) showing Pinco posing with now-retired GPD officer Brian Choffin.
On July 19, 2020 Pinco was live streaming a Back the Blue Ride & Rally in Geneva and broadcasted his conversation with Geneva City Councilor-At-Large Frank Gaglianese. Gaglianese made his now-infamous comment about wanting to shoot and kill community members at the 8:24 mark while speaking with Mike Pinco:
“…the College did their whole thing? For police accountability? If I could have got a gun and shot the squares on my computer screen and killed everybody…disgusting.”
Immediately following Gaglianese’s comment, Pinco replied:
“If you need any help, if you want, or support going with ya, I’ll be happy to go with ya.”
Later in the video, around the 12:14 mark, Pinco can be heard again, telling Gaglianese:
“I’m serious, Frank, any time you need me, like I said, if you need support, whatever, you want me to go with you…”
To which Gaglianese replies, “Thank you.”
Geneva Police School Resource Officer Raul Arroyo posted a comment during the live stream, and Pinco responded by saying “Officer Arroyo – thank you, and we love you too.”
In November 2020, Pinco hosted retired Geneva Police detective lieutenant and current Ontario County Supervisor for the City of Geneva District 3 (Wards 5 and 6) Greg Bendzlowicz on one of his podcasts.
Pinco introduces Bendzlowicz, saying “Greg’s been a great friend since I’ve been up here.”
When the conversation turned to politics, Pinco invited Bendzlowicz to appear on his “The Brooklyn Beef” podcast, and Bendzlowicz agreed.
Pinco: “Greg’s gotta be on the Brooklyn Beef.”
Bendzlowicz: “I’ll be there, I’ll reserve all comment for the Brooklyn Beef.”
To date, County Supervisor Bendzlowicz has not appeared on “The Brooklyn Beef.”
On April 10, 2021, County Supervisor Bendzlowicz attended Pinco’s birthday party, and appeared in a photo posted on Pinco’s Facebook page.
In March 2021, Mike Pinco had an idea.
Pinco filed an ERISA claim on March 6, 2021 against Guardian Life Insurance Company to receive disability benefits. According to Pinco’s complaint, he began receiving disability benefits in February 2015 but Guardian canceled those benefits in March 2020, and Pinco believes he meets the requirements to continue receiving those payments.
However, back on July 29, 2020, Pinco posted a video on his personal Facebook page in which he claimed to have just “chased down three kids” who had allegedly stolen a package on 85th Street in Brooklyn.
“I chased down three kids. They stole a package from someone’s door. And I ran…we saw the whole thing…they stole the package that was brought over by (Amazon) Prime….
“And then they…I proceeded to take chase on them, and this is what Brooklyn Mike does, this is how you handle shit.”
“Please Continue To Donate”
Pinco has also been involved in organizing two online fundraisers in 2021.
Fundraiser #1 began in January, when Pinco organized a GoFundMe campaign for legal fees to “retain an attorney to begin the referendum process” so that city residents would be able to vote on the recently adopted Police Review Board law.
With a goal of $3,000, the page clearly states that the GoFundMe fundraiser is for the “first phase” of the legal effort to force a referendum, and that a retainer to hire an attorney would cost $2,500.
“The cost of the retainer is $2,500. This will get the process towards a referendum in motion, and take a big step in the right direction- a city wide vote. This will be the first phase towards the peoples wishes that will benefit the City of Geneva, the People of Geneva, and the Geneva Police Department.”
On January 26, 2021, Pinco was allowed to share the GoFundMe fundraiser on the Facebook page for the Aeneas McDonald PBA.
On January 28, 2021 at 2:08pm, Pinco was allowed to share a video on the Facebook page for the Aeneas McDonald PBA asking viewers to give money to the GoFundMe campaign.
“The retainer fee is $2,500. We have put a goal of $3,000. This is Phase 1 of the people’s fight against this local law, and toward a referendum.”
“Supposedly, the cost can be as high as $20,000…this is the first part of it. So there may be an additional, in a worst case scenario, an additional $17,000.”
“If we go and blow past the $3,000 goal, that money will go towards the second phase of the fight towards the referendum.”
A few hours later, on January 28, 2021 at 5:45pm, Pinco was allowed to share a second video on the Facebook page for the Aeneas McDonald PBA announcing that the $3,000 goal had been reached.
In this video, Pinco says:
“If you can, for those of you who haven’t and would like to still donate…please continue to donate, because this will roll into the second phase of the fight against the PRB.”
By April 2, 2021, the GoFundMe fundraiser had raised $3,385.
Fundraiser #2 began in early March, when Pinco launched the Geneva United website, where clicking a “Donate” button would lead visitors to a CheddarUp fundraising campaign with a goal of $10,000. The page stated that the funds raised would “help the people of Geneva.”
By April 2, 2021, the CheddarUp fundraiser had raised $3,344.
On April 2, 2021, in consultation with a special attorney providing legal advice, Geneva City Clerk Lori Guinan ruled that the local law creating the PRB is not subject to a referendum.
It was expected that Pinco and Geneva United would move forward, as promised, with “Phase 2” of their legal challenge.
Minus the $2,500 retainer for an attorney, Geneva United still had a total of $4,229 from the two fundraisers on April 2 to begin “Phase 2″ of the fight for a PRB referendum.
But rather than start ‘Phase 2” as promised, Pinco announced that there would be no “Phase 2,” and Geneva United would no longer pursue a legal challenge.
The reason? Litigation is “expensive” and Geneva United didn’t want to “sue” the City.
“(We) believe we would have prevailed against the city in this matter however, as you all know, litigation is a very expensive venture.
Geneva United and its members are not about suing the city but about advocating for the people of the city and making the city a better place to live and visit.”
A statement later posted by Pinco on the Geneva United website also claimed that “Phase 2” didn’t happen because of a lack of funds.
“In order to go forward and keep fighting for a vote on Local Law 1-2021, a law suit would have to be initiated requiring legal and filing fees not available to Geneva United at this time.”
The CheddarUp fundraiser continued to accept donations after April 2.
As of April 25, 2021, the GoFundMe fundraiser is still actively accepting donations, and so far has raised $3,385.
As of April 25, 2021, the CheddarUp fundraiser is no longer active, and it raised a final total of $4,781.
As of April 25, 2021, Pinco’s two fundraisers have raised a total of $5,676 over the original cost of the attorney retainer.
Geneva United’s website does not indicate what will happen with the $5,676.
Insurance Fraud Case Involving Pinco Still Under Investigation
On March 15, the state DFS sent the following response to the FOIL request:
“The Department’s Criminal Investigations Unit (“CIU”) has records that are responsive to your request. However, the records are part of an ongoing Department investigation and thus are exempt from disclosure…Disclosure of the responsive records would, among other things, interfere with the Department’s investigation by revealing its scope and nature, thus providing an opportunity for evidence or witness tampering and the submission of false or misleading information in response to Department inquiries.”
And on April 8, in an emailed statement to Geneva Believer, Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl confirmed an ongoing investigation into Mike Pinco:
“At present, I am investigating an insurance fraud case involving Pinco. It is alleged (and appears to be true) that he was collecting disability benefits and did not report employment and income as required. He informed the insurance company that he had no other income but there is evidence that he was running a bridal shop as well as driving as limo during that time.”
**UPDATE (June 9 2020)**
The preceding article was published on April 25, 2021.
On May 20, 2021, the judge approved Pinco’s request to abandon the case and filed an order of dismissal.