All four defendants in the Buffalo Billion trial have been found guilty on all counts.
The trial went to jury on Wednesday.
Buffalo developer Louis Ciminelli, Syracuse developers Joseph Gerardi and Steven Aiello, and the founder of SUNY Polytechnic, Dr. Alain Kaloyeros were found guilty of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
U.S. vs. Kaloyeros, also known as the “Buffalo Billion corruption trial” centers around highly lucrative state construction bids, which the government claims were fixed and tailored to fit COR Development in Syracuse and LP Ciminelli in Buffalo.
All four men are accused of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit to wire fraud.
Additionally, Joseph Gerardi is accused of lying to federal officials, which is attorney denies.
Federal prosecutors claim the developers worked with their then-consultant Todd Howe, a former aide to Governor Cuomo, and Dr. Kaloyeros, to rig the open-bidding process for RFPs in Buffalo and in Syracuse.
Howe became a government witness in a connected corruption case and was later arrested for violating terms of his agreement deal.
The project at the center of this case is the $750 million Innovation Hub at the Buffalo’s River Bend, awarded to LP Ciminelli.
The attorneys for all four defendants said in court the RFP process for both Syracuse and Buffalo was fair and competitive, and that their clients are innocent; the prosecution painted a picture for jurors of men who didn’t want to play by the rules.
A key government witness, in this case, is Kevin Schuler, a former executive at LP Ciminelli, who admitted to tailoring the RFPs along with her former boss Louis Ciminelli and Kaloyeros, who oversaw many upstate development projects at the time.
Sentencing is scheduled to take place in October.
The attorneys for Aiello and Gerardi issued this statement after the verdict:
“We will be moving to appeal today’s disappointing decision, and look forward to clearing Mr. Aiello’s and Mr. Gerardi’s names.”
-Steve Coffey, Attorney for Steve Aiello and Milton Williams, Attorney for Joseph Gerardi
Conspiracy carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, wire fraud also carries a max sentence of 20 years and making a false statement 5 years.
There is other reaction to Thursday’s verdict:
Governor Andrew Cuomo issued the following statement after the verdict:
“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 gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro had this reaction:
“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.”
Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins issued the following statement:
“The guilty verdicts in the Buffalo Billion Trial are no surprise. The bid-rigging was obvious from the media reports on the trial.
Along with the Percocco conviction, it shows a systemic pattern of corruption within the Cuomo administration that demand an outside independent investigation. When the Moreland Commission began to ask questions about the relationship between his many major donors, especially from the real estate industry, and the contracts, subsidies, and regulatory favors he issued, he immediately moved to shut it down.
The pattern of bid rigging in the recent trial raises grave concerns about how many other bids were rigged by these and other pay-to-play contributors to Cuomo. For example, why did Cor Development’s Aiello and Gerardi, guilty in this case, get the former public housing project Kennedy Square in Syracuse in a no-bid, no-money-down transfer from ESD to SUNY Upstate Medical to Cor Development? All the people guilty in this trial, plus Cuomo and Percoco, were here in Syracuse to tout that deal. It is time to reopen a Moreland Commission on Public Corruption and let it do its work without the governor shutting it down when it gets close to him. I believe Preet Bharara might be available.”