Sentencing set for New York's 'Buffalo Billion' fraud convicts
UPDATE: July 19, 2018: A federal jury last Friday convicted both former LPCiminelli CEO Louis Ciminelli Jr. and Alain Kaloyeros, former SUNY Polytechnic Institute president, of wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy, The Buffalo News reported. Each charge carries a possible 20-year prison sentence. Kaloyeros is scheduled to be sentenced on October 11, followed by Ciminelli on October 17. Attorneys for Ciminelli and Kaloyeros said they would appeal the verdict.
The jury also convicted COR Development execs Steve Aiello and Joseph Gerardi of charges against them, and the two will be sentenced on October. 15.
UPDATE: June 26, 2018: Former LPCiminelli executive Kevin Schuler testified in federal court on Thursday that he, former boss Louis Ciminelli, and Alain Kaloyeros, another "Buffalo Billion" defendant and former head of the SUNY Polytechnic Institute, worked to illegally influence the bidding process for a major development project that was part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's economic initiative, according to The Buffalo News.
With the assistance of a politically connected lobbyist hired by LPCiminelli, Schuler said he, Ciminelli and Kaloyeros wielded special influence over the Request for Proposal (RFP) process, the selection process and the project itself.
However, according to WRAL, Schuler admitted under questioning that although there was what he termed an understanding that the fix was in for LPCiminelli, Kaloyeros never explicitly guaranteed the Buffalo-based firm a contract.
Prosecutors are expected to recommend leniency when Schuler is sentenced. He is facing a maximum of three years in federal prison.
- Attorneys for Steven Aiello, a Cor Development executive and defendant in the fraud and bid-rigging case, filed a court motion on Sunday asking the judge to preclude the testimony of a Syracuse, New York, contractor who claimed his company was denied the opportunity to bid on one of the projects in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's "Buffalo Billion" development initiative.
- In the motion, Aiello's attorneys argued that testimony from John Andrew Breuer, president of Hueber-Breuer Construction Co., is not relevant to the bid-rigging allegations against their client. Breuer, the document said, would testify that his company's management fees were less than what Cor received for its work on the $14.4 million Central New York Film Hub and a $90 million LED lighting factory, according to Syracuse.com. Breuer also claims that the Fort Schuyler Management Corp., the nonprofit in charge of hiring contractors for SUNY Polytechnic Institute, formerly headed up by Buffalo Billion defendant Alain Kaloyeros, did not list the RFP in a publication for state contract notices and that he was denied a chance to bid when he contacted Fort Schuyler a week after the deadline.
- Prosecutors, according to Syracuse.com, are attempting to prove that state officials fixed the RFP process in favor of Cor, but Aiello's attorneys argued that Breuer's testimony would only prove that the state knew of Hueber-Breuer's qualifications during the RFP phase. Court records do not yet indicate whether U.S. District Court Judge Valerie Caproni has issued a decision regarding the motion.
Also scheduled to testify at the trial this week is former LPCiminelli executive Kevin Schuler. Schuler, along with Michael Laipple and Louis Ciminelli, was one of three individuals from the company charged in the Buffalo Billion case. Prosecutors allege that the company paid bribes to a former Cuomo aide to secure a $750 million SolarCity construction project within the Buffalo Billion development initiative. There have been no allegations of wrongdoing made against Cuomo.
Schuler pleaded guilty last month to fraud and conspiracy, and the authorities have dropped all charges against Laipple, which leaves Ciminelli as the sole defendant from LPCiminelli.
LPCiminelli, after the indictments, stopped performing work as a general contractor to focus on program management and development, leading the company to lay off at least 10% of its employees and auction off tools and equipment. The notoriety reportedly cost the company $4 billion in contracts.
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