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Two Syracuse Area Developers Are a Part of Four Guilty Verdicts in the 'Buffalo Billion' Trial

Scott Willis

A federal jury in New York on Thursday convicted key players of corruption in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's ``Buffalo Billion'' economic redevelopment program. This included Syracuse-based COR Development executives Steve Aiello and Joseph Gerardi.

The jury in Manhattan federal court returned its verdict after a month-long trial, which put a spotlight on how contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars were awarded for redevelopment projects in Syracuse and Buffalo.

The jury, after deliberating for just over a day, found Alain Kaloyeros, the former head of SUNY Polytechnic and mastermind of Cuomo’s upstate economic development programs guilty of bid-rigging, when he helped steer lucrative contracts for projects including Buffalo’s $750 million Solar City factory to favored developers.

Three upstate developers, Louis Ciminelli of Buffalo’s LP Ciminelli and two principals in the Syracuse based COR Development Company, were also found guilty of participating in the scheme.

Cuomo, who was not implicated in the case, issued a statement, saying, "The jury has spoken and justice has been done” and that those who committed “such an egregious act should be punished to the full extent of the law."

The governor has said he didn’t know that any of the bid-rigging activities were going on. 

Cuomo’s opponents in the race for governor pounced. Democratic primary challenger Cynthia Nixon said that she does not know for sure whether the governor , known as a micromanager, ever knew about the activities of those who ran his economic development programs  saying “Andrew Cuomo is either corrupt or he is spectacularly incompetent.”

The Republican candidate for governor, Marc Molinaro, blamed Cuomo, saying he “empowered, emboldened and encouraged individuals to bend the rules, rig the system and defrauded taxpayers”.

It’s the second of two federal corruption trials involving former Cuomo associates. Earlier this year, Cuomo’s former closest aide, Joe Percoco, was convicted of bribery.