UB Council member and New Era CEO Chris Koch was charged with second-degree reckless endangerment and fourth-degree criminal mischief in Buffalo City Court after allegedly driving his car at his girlfriend’s ex-partner in May.
Koch has pleaded not guilty and was released on bail. The two charges carry a maximum sentence of one year in jail, according to a press release from the Erie County District Attorney.
Koch is still a member of the council, according to UB spokesperson John DellaContrada. The council serves as “the primary oversight and advisory body” to UB’s “president and senior officers,” according to its website. Nine of its members, including Koch, are appointed by the governor to seven-year terms and one is elected by UB students to a one-year term.
The charges against Koch stem from an argument he had with his girlfriend’s ex-partner, identified in court documents as Daniel Parisi, outside of Oliver’s Restaurant on Delaware Avenue, according to a police report obtained by WIVB.
Parisi said in a statement to Buffalo Police that he ran into Koch as he and his ex-partner leaving the restaurant together while driving back. DA John Flynn later said that Parisi was not there randomly, according to WIVB, but no one disputes that Parisi pulled up next to Koch and got into an argument with him. Parisi alleges in his statement that Koch called him a “f--king p---y,” at which point Parisi got out of his car and told Koch “Let’s settle this like men.”
Koch then drove his 2022 Cadillac Escalade directly at Parisi. Parisi jumped out of the way but sustained a minor injury to his right hand. Koch then hit Parisi’s 2018 Chevrolet Silverado, causing $7,232.35 of damage to Parisi’s vehicle.
Prosecutors originally charged Koch with first-degree reckless endangerment, a felony, implying that Koch had a “depraved indifference to human life” and “created a grave risk of death to another person,” according to a criminal complaint. In June, the DA’s office dropped that charge to second-degree reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor, arguing that they couldn’t prove the felony charge “beyond a reasonable doubt,” according to the press release. The new charge implies that Koch “created a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person.”
“As we indicated from the beginning, this was a traffic accident caused by the conduct of the alleged complainant,” Aaron Glazer, one of Koch’s attorneys, said in an email to The Spectrum. “We expect that when the true facts are revealed, Mr. Koch will be fully exonerated.”
Peter Kooshoian, an attorney for Parisi, did not respond to a request for comment from The Spectrum.
Koch did not attend the UB Council’s most recent meeting on June 18, according to UB spokesperson John DellaContrada. That meeting occurred about six weeks after Koch was first arraigned.
But council meeting minutes show that Koch’s absences long pre-date his arrest. The last meeting he attended took place on Dec. 10, 2018. The UB Council generally meets four times per year.
A.J. Franklin, the 2022-23 UB Council student representative, said he has not seen Koch at any university function, nor was Koch’s situation discussed in any council meeting. Franklin is also an assistant features editor for The Spectrum and is the sole student representative on the council.
“This incident has not affected [Koch’s] role [on the council] (and rightly so given that the other party was the aggressor),” Glazer said.
Only New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul can remove Koch from his position under New York State law. The governor’s office did not respond to The Spectrum’s questions about whether Gov. Hochul is considering removing Koch from the council. No UB official can appoint or remove council members.
Council members are not paid but are reimbursed for any expenses “actually and necessarily incurred” while carrying out their duties as council members.
Koch was appointed to the council in March 2013 by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, according to the council’s website. He is currently two years into his second term on the council, which is set to expire in 2027.
Koch also donated $25,000 to Cuomo’s campaign for governor in August 2014, according to the New York State Board of Elections. Cuomo was up for re-election that year. The Spectrum did not find any donations Koch made to Gov. Hochul.
Koch is expected to next appear in court on Oct. 7 at 9:30 a.m.
Grant Ashley is the managing editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Grant Ashley is the editor in chief of The Spectrum. He's also reported for WBFO, WIVB and The Buffalo News. He enjoys taking long bike rides, baking with his parents’ ingredients and recreating Bob Ross paintings in crayon. He can be found on the platform formerly known as Twitter at @Grantrashley.