5 interesting things in the Buffalo Billion charges

Posted at 10:35 AM, Sep 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-22 15:56:15-04

5 interesting things in the Buffalo Billion charges:

Federal prosecutors this morning announced public corruption charges against nine defendants, including Joseph Percoco, a close former aide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo; Alain Kaloyeros, the governor’s Nanotechnology guru and point man on the Buffalo Billion project; and Buffalo developer Louis Ciminelli.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the group was charged, “for their roles in two bribery and fraud schemes in connection with the award of hundreds of millions of dollars in New York State contracts and other official state actions.”

Here are 5 interesting things we read in the 80-page complaint:

1. The Buffalo Billion is central to these charges.

You need only look at the characterization by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the document. An entire subsection is titled: “THE BUFFALO BILLION FRAUD AND BRIBERY SCHEME.”


2. This scandal reaches as high as the governor’s office.

When the wife of Percoco, the Cuomo aide, was alleged earlier this year to have received payments from consultants related to the Buffalo Billion contract, he was technically not on the governor’s staff because he had taken time off to join his campaign.

But prosecutors charge today that Percoco acted “in his capacity as a senior official in the Office of the Governor” while the alleged wire fraud occurred. That is a big deal for the political future of the state’s highest officeholder.


3. The 50-year bid requirement was a huge red flag.

Even LP Ciminelli officials acknowledged that tailoring the original bid to “a local developer in the Greater Buffalo area” with “over 50 years of proven experience” was a bit too obvious. (It has been reported that Ciminelli was the only company in WNY who would meet these qualifications.)

Kevin Schuler of Ciminelli responded to an internal company email by writing, “50 was a bit obnoxious.”


4. Political contributions were key.

The complaint claims that developers were instructed to make political donations “so that the governor’s office would know and remember them.”

In one instance it cites Todd Howe, a lobbyist who has long been close to the Cuomo family, instructing a Syracuse developer that “you should hold on making any political $$ contributions to any state or federal elected so we can make sure you [get] the most leverage out of them.”

5. New York State’s highest-paid employee is a target.

Alain Kaloyeros, who runs the SUNY Polytechic Institute, is named multiple times throughout the 80-page complaint and is one of nine men charged.

Kaloyeros has drawn controversy for his nearly $1 million yearly state salary as well as his flashy cars and some might say abrasive nature with the press.

Many emails to and from the personal Gmail account of “Dr. K” are cited throughout the complaint.