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Rochester Area Assemblyman An Apparent Suicide

Mike Groll
Assemblyman Bill Nojay, R-Pittsford, left, and Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, R-Troy, talk in the Assembly Chamber at the Capitol in March in Albany, N.Y.

A well-known assemblyman from the Rochester area has committed suicide. A police officer saw Bill Nojay shoot himself near his family’s cemetery plot around 9:30 am Friday morning.

Nojay, a 59-year-old radio talk show host, had served in the Assembly since 2013. The conservative Republican was facing a primary challenge in next Tuesday’s primary for re-election to a third term. His Democratic opponent has suspended campaigning for now.

Assembly GOP Leader Brian Kolb expressed sadness and shock.

“I’m just almost speechless,” said Kolb, who said he considered Nojay a friend as well as a colleague. “Not only do I feel bad, but I’m sure what’s even more tragic is what his family is dealing with right now.”

Nojay, who was also involved in international democracy movements, as well as international business deals, was accused of fraud in connection with a venture in Cambodia, which he brushed off earlier this year as nothing more than a lawsuit.    

The New York Daily News reports that Nojay had been scheduled to turn himself in to the FBI Friday morning relating to the fraud charges.

Nojay, an avid supporter of Donald Trump, was a popular politician in Albany, with friends on both sides of the aisle. Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie says he “ cannot express how saddened” he is to learn of Nojay’s passing.

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.