- Lawyers for Louis Ciminelli Jr., former head of Buffalo, New York, general contractor LP Ciminelli, filed an appeal of his July 2018 conviction on bid-rigging charges in relation to a SolarCity plant that was part of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Buffalo Billion program of development. Ciminelli was sentenced in July 2018 to serve 28 months in federal prison and pay a $500,000 fine.
- Ciminelli's lawyers in the appeal, according to an analysis by The Buffalo News, presented a "no harm, no foul" argument, alleging that the state did not lose any money on the $750 million contract LP Ciminelli received to build the manufacturing facility and that the general contractor delivered a quality job. Also included in the appeal documents is the argument that, although LP Ciminelli was a preferred bidder for the project, the Request for Proposals, which prosecutors said Ciminelli helped craft, did not actually favor the general contractor.
- Also appealing their convictions in the case are Joseph Percoco, a former consultant to Cuomo, and Alain Kaloyeros, former president of SUNY Polytechnic Institute. Percoco is already serving his prison sentence, and Kaloyeros, like Ciminelli, is out on bond pending his appeal.
There is more at stake here for Ciminelli than just his freedom. If Ciminelli loses his appeal, he will also forfeit $7.6 million — $1.6 million from his personal finances and $6 million in company funds that are being held in a state-controlled escrow account, according to another report from The Buffalo News. These figures reportedly represent what the state believes to be Ciminelli's personal and business take from the SolarCity project. This is in addition to the $500,000 fine levied against Ciminelli upon his conviction.
Some government construction contracts can be highly profitable, and some contractors will cross legal and ethical lines in order to secure them, risking prison sentences and steep financial penalties.
Earlier this year, for example, the U.S. Department of Justice sued two contractors in regard to alleged bid-rigging and kickback schemes at the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility in Aiken, South Carolina, a project overseen by the National Nuclear Security Administration. Subcontractor Wise Services Inc. of Dayton, Ohio, supposedly gave general contractor CB&I AREVA MOX Services LLC gifts in the form of cash, professional sports event tickets and hunting gear to process $6.4 million of fake invoices on its behalf. One Wise employee has already been convicted in connection to the bid-rigging allegations in the lawsuit and is currently serving a 23-month prison sentence.