Ex-Cuomo advisers, others charged in New
York corruption cases
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[September 23, 2016]
By Nate Raymond
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Federal and state
prosecutors on Thursday announced charges against 10 men, including two
onetime senior advisers to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, in corruption
and fraud cases involving state contracts worth hundreds of millions of
The charges followed a federal investigation into Buffalo Billion, a
signature $1 billion economic development project of Cuomo aimed at
revitalizing the area around the city of Buffalo, once an upstate
Joseph Percoco, a former executive deputy secretary to the governor;
Alain Kaloyeros, president of the State University of New York's
Polytechnic Institute; and six others were charged in a criminal
complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan.
Todd Howe, a lobbyist and an ex-adviser to Cuomo when he led the U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development, pleaded guilty to federal
charges and is cooperating. Richard Morvillo, his lawyer, said Howe
"will testify truthfully if called upon."
Prosecutors said in one scheme, Percoco, whom they called Cuomo's
"right-hand-man," sought $315,000 in bribes in exchange for offering
help to two of Howe's corporate clients, an energy company and a
Syracuse real estate developer.
In an overlapping scheme, they said, Kaloyeros, who oversaw a grant
application process for Buffalo Billion and similar programs, and Howe,
whom he hired to help develop projects, conspired to rig bids for
contracts favoring two developers.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced separate state
charges against Kaloyeros and a real estate executive, Joseph Nicolla,
over alleged bid-rigging involving three multimillion-dollar contracts.
The cases were the latest to focus on Albany, New York's capital,
following last year's convictions of the leaders of the state
legislature's two houses, Democrat Sheldon Silver and Republican Dean
"Today's complaint shines a light on yet another sordid side of the
show-me-the-money culture that has so plagued the government," Manhattan
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.
Cuomo was not accused of wrongdoing. In a statement, Cuomo said he was
"saddened and profoundly disappointed" by the allegations involving
Percoco, who previously worked for and was a close friend of Cuomo's
late father, former Governor Mario Cuomo.
"Like my father before me, I believe public integrity is paramount,"
Cuomo said. "This sort of breach, if true, should be and will be
[to top of second column]
Joseph Percoco (L), former aid to New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo,
walks out of the Manhattan Federal Courthouse in New York, September
22, 2016. REUTERS/Bria Webb
Percoco, 47, and Kaloyeros, 60, self-surrendered on Thursday morning
and were later granted bail at a court hearing. In response to the
charges, SUNY suspended Kaloyeros without pay.
Barry Bohrer, Percoco's lawyer, called the prosecution "an overreach
of classic proportions." Kaloyeros' lawyer, Michael Miller, said his
client was innocent. Nicolla's company, Columbia Development, did
not respond to a request for comment.
Some of the bribes paid to Percoco were arranged by Peter Galbraith
Kelly, a senior vice president at Competitive Power Ventures, which
obtained a $100 million contract that would help finance a $900
million power plant, prosecutors said.
In the Buffalo Billion-related scheme, prosecutors said Howe
received bribes from Syracuse's COR Development Co, run by Steven
Aiello and Joseph Gerardi, and Buffalo's LPCiminelli, run by Louis
Ciminelli, Michael Laipple and Kevin Schuler.
Prosecutors said executives at both companies were major donors to
Cuomo's election campaigns, with COR becoming its top upstate donor
after ramping up contributions beginning in December 2011.
Daniel Gitner, Kelly's lawyer, said his client was innocent. Lawyers
for Aiello, Gerardi, Ciminelli, Laipple and Schuler either declined
comment or did not respond to requests for comment.
(Additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by
Matthew Lewis and Leslie Adler)
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