Architect of Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion Project Is Convicted in Bid-Rigging Scheme
Is it possible that Cuomo himself wasn't part of the conspiracy? Why is it that the people around him keep turning out to be corrupt?Alain E. Kaloyeros, a principal architect of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s signature economic development initiative, was convicted on Thursday in a bid-rigging scheme that steered hundreds of millions of dollars in state contracts to favored companies in Buffalo and Syracuse.
Dr. Kaloyeros, 62, was found guilty of wire fraud and conspiracy in the fourth week of a federal trial in Manhattan that invited harsh scrutiny of Mr. Cuomo’s ambitious plan to revitalize upstate and western New York, known as the Buffalo Billion.
The verdict was immediately seized on by the governor’s political rivals to criticize what they say has been a culture of corruption enabled by Mr. Cuomo; they also pointed to a conviction of one of the governor’s former top aides, Joseph Percoco, who was found guilty earlier this year of accepting more than $300,000 in bribes from executives working for two companies with state business.
Mr. Cuomo, who has not been accused by prosecutors of any wrongdoing, said after the verdict that he had “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.”
Dr. Kaloyeros, the former president of SUNY Polytechnic Institute, had been credited with helping to create a high-tech industry in the capital region, which led Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, to place him in charge of the Buffalo Billion project. The governor had praised Dr. Kaloyeros as a genius and “New York’s secret weapon.”
Soon, the money began to flow to Buffalo; waterfront parks, gleaming modern factories and a cluster of medical and technology facilities were built.
But at the trial, the prosecution presented evidence that Dr. Kaloyeros and Todd R. Howe, a former lobbyist with ties to Mr. Cuomo, conspired to defraud Fort Schuyler Management Corporation, a nonprofit real estate arm of SUNY Polytechnic, by steering lucrative contracts to two firms whose executives were significant donors to Mr. Cuomo’s campaign.
As part of the scheme, Dr. Kaloyeros and Mr. Howe tailored requests for proposals, or RFPs, to fit the specific qualifications possessed by the two companies — LPCiminelli, a Buffalo construction management firm, and COR Development, a Syracuse-area firm — and ensure that they be chosen by Fort Schuyler for the projects.
LPCiminelli, for example, received a contract to build what became a $750 million solar-panel plant on the banks of the Buffalo River, while COR received contracts worth more than $100 million for other projects. Both firms were clients of Mr. Howe’s.
At a minimum he must have a general sort of awareness that the people who give generously to his campaign coffers expect something in return. He may not have known the details of the big rigging process but he probably didn't need to.