A federal jury in Manhattan has convicted key players of corruption in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “Buffalo Billion” economic redevelopment program.
The jury found Alain Kaloyeros, the former president and CEO of SUNY Polytechnic Institute guilty on two counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The three other defendants, Syracuse-based Cor Development executives Steven Aiello and Joseph Gerardi, and Buffalo builder Louis Ciminelli, were convicted as well. Prosecutors accused Kaloyeros of working with Buffalo and Syracuse developers to tailor bids on economic development projects across upstate. The government said the defendants defrauded Fort Schuyler Management Corp., and unfairly won a 100 million dollar job in Syracuse.
Cuomo had praised Kaloyeros, who led many of Cuomo’s efforts to lure high-tech investment upstate. Cuomo once called Kaloyeros his “economic guru” and the governor invited him to appear at the announcement of various economic development projects. Cuomo was not charged in the case and was not accused of any wrongdoing, but the trial tarnished a program that the governor had made a centerpiece of his efforts to lift the upstate economy.
Reaction on the guilty verdicts:
Governor Andrew Cuomo:
“The jury has spoken and justice has been done. There can be no tolerance for those who seek to defraud the system to advance their own personal interests. Anyone who has committed such an egregious act should be punished to the full extent of the law.”
Republican Nominiee for Governor, Marc Molinaro:
“Andrew Cuomo’s economic development czar, Alain Kalayeros, today joined Joe Percoco and Todd Howe, guilty on all counts, by a jury of peers. While these men stood trial, make no question what was really found guilty was the reckless pay to play, incompetence of Andrew Cuomo’s administration. He has empowered, emboldened and encouraged individuals to bend the rules, rig the system and defrauded taxpayers. New Yorkers have paid the price of the Cuomo administration’s arrogant and blatant disregard for the law. The people of our state deserve better and as Governor I will enact the Albany Accountability Act, to give them a government that puts the people of New York first.”
Ed Cox, Chairman of the New York Republican Party:
“Today’s new round of guilty convictions and the facts that have been revealed in the two trials indisputably prove that Cuomo is the most crooked, corrupt Governor New Yorkers have seen in more than a century. It is said that things happen in three’s, and there is most certainly another shoe that must drop. The facts of these cases–and other brazen examples of pay-to-play, such as Crystal Run Healthcare that is currently the subject of another FBI investigation–directly implicate the Governor in committing federal and state crimes. The only way to restore the integrity of the Executive Branch is to hold him accountable.”
Cynthia Nixon, Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate:
“Governor Cuomo will say that he had no knowledge of Kaloyeros’ activity, just like he said he knew nothing about the crimes that Joe Percoco was committing in the his own office. We’re supposed to believe that Andrew Cuomo, a notorious micromanager, had no idea what his right-hand man was doing right under his nose? We’re supposed to believe that the master architect of the Governor’s economic development plan doled out nearly a billion dollars without the Governor’s knowledge or guidance? I for one don’t believe that. But if the Governor truly didn’t know what his top aide and highest-paid state employee were doing, that’s arguably even worse. Andrew Cuomo is either corrupt or he is spectacularly incompetent. Either way, the facts from the trials of Joe Percoco and Alain Kaloyeros lead to only one conclusion: We can’t clean up Albany until we clean out the governor’s mansion. Nothing is going to change until we change who’s in charge.”
Brian Kolb, Assembly Minority Leader:
“The conviction of Alain Kaloyeros on corruption crimes is business as usual in Andrew Cuomo’s Albany. Friends get favors, campaign accounts get fatter and taxpayers get the bill. Where do we go from here? New Yorkers might look to Gov. Cuomo’s own words from 2016, since they apply perfectly to the blatant corruption outlined in the Buffalo Billion trial:
‘… management failed to understand that taxpayer money deserves the highest protection.’
‘Scandal seldom begins with evil, but with temptation, and temptation usually begins
with a lack of watchfulness.’
‘Honesty is a virtue, but in organizations, it is a culture,
and it starts at the top, with leadership.’
‘When leadership forgets this, it’s time to change leadership.’
Couldn’t agree more.
Change in Albany is long overdue. Despite the governor’s prior soundbites, corruption has only become more prevalent on his watch. Each guilty verdict is not only an indictment of the individuals abusing their power and position, but a reflection on the pay-to-play culture which enables the behavior. There appears to be no end in sight for Albany’s corruption crisis.”