Congressional candidate Carl Paladino has a convicted sex offender on his company payroll who now works as “assistant treasurer” for his campaign.
Joel Sartori was controller of Ellicott Development when he was busted in 2013 for accessing child porn on a company computer.
Sartori was convicted of two felonies — possessing and promoting kiddie porn — and sentenced to 10 years’ probation in 2017, court records show.
Sartori, 63, is listed in the state’s Sex Offender Registry Level 2 with a mugshot.
Paladino confirmed to The Post that he gave Sartori — who’s worked for him for decades — a second chance and kept him on the payroll following his prosecution.
The candidate said that Sartori now serves as assistant controller for Ellicott, the development firm Paladino founded.
Paladino’s registration records for his congressional campaign for upstate District 23 list Sartori as “assistant treasurer” and “custodian of records.”
“Joel has been with me for ages. He served his punishment for what he did. He’s a wonderful employee,” Paladino told The Post Wednesday.
Paladino, the 2010 Republican candidate for governor who campaigned with a baseball bat — and lost to Democrat Andrew Cuomo — said Sartori confessed to everything after getting caught accessing child porn from a company computer.
“We made a decision to keep him. He did something sinful but otherwise has been a good man,” Paladino said.
He said he’s aware he might be attacked for coddling a convicted pedophile.
“I don’t think this has anything to do with my campaign, my positions or abilities,” Paladino said.
Sartori declined a request for comment.
“This is more proof that Carl Paladino is unfit for office,” said Erie County Democratic Party Chairman Jeremy Zellner.
“Paladino actually brought someone who is a convicted kiddie porn sex offender into his campaign. A candidate who coddles a convicted pedophile is not someone the public wants in office.”
Max Della Pia, an Air Force veteran and lawyer, who is the Democrat in the race, said Paladino’s tolerance of pedophilia doesn’t square with how Republican senators grilled Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson during her confirmation hearings “on whether or not she had been sufficiently strict or had appropriately punished child pornography.”
“Carl Paladino professes to share the conservative values of his party. You may have heard the quote, `Integrity is not what you APPEAR to be when all eyes are on you. It is who you ARE when no one is looking,’” Della Pia said.
“We know how Paladino has handled this issue with his employee on his company’s computers while he thought no one was looking. It will be interesting to see how he handles this issue now that he knows all eyes are on [him],” the Democratic candidate added.
Paladino’s main opponent in the GOP primary is former ally Nick Langworthy, chairman of the state GOP and the Erie County Republican leader.
They are running for an open seat after GOP Rep. Tom Reed resigned following claims of sexual misconduct.
Langworthy declined to comment.
After The Post interviewed Paladino about Sartori, his campaign spokesman Vish Burra reached out and insisted that the convicted perv’s listing as working for the campaign was a “simple error.”
“The individual is not the deputy treasurer. He is not affiliated with Mr. Paladino’s campaign,” the spokesman said.
Paladino, 75, is a magnet for controversy.
He came under fire recently for making pro-Adolf Hitler comments.
“That’s the kind of leader we need today. We need somebody inspirational. We need somebody that is a doer, has been there and done it,” Paladino said in a 2021 radio interview recently unearthed by the liberal watchdog Media Matters, referring to Hitler, who was responsible for the extermination of 11 million people in Europe, including 6 million Jews.
He later said he regretted invoking Hitler’s name.
Perhaps his lowest moment came in 2016 after saying he wanted to see then-President Barack Obama die of mad cow disease and first lady Michelle Obama “return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.”
The outcry triggered a movement to remove Paladino, a longtime ally of former President Donald Trump, from the Buffalo Board of Education.
The Post recently reported that the firm he founded, Ellicott, now run by his son, William Paladino, has airbrushed Carl from the company website.
The firm’s hotel division partners with the Buffalo Bills football team.