Cor­rup­tion probe cast cloud over SUNY

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Kyle Hughes

The cor­rup­tion scan­dal swirling around some of Gov. Cuomo’s aides has cast a cloud over SUNY.

The cor­rup­tion and con­tract-fix­ing scan­dal swirling around some of Gov. An­drew Cuomo’s top aides and cam­paign donors has cast a cloud over SUNY that will likely not go away any­time soon.

This week SUNY Provost Alexan­der Cartwright, who has tem­po­rar­ily taken over for ousted SUNY Poly Pres­i­dent Alain Kaloyeros, took steps to try to re­turn nor­malcy to the flag­ship cam­pus as well as a satel­lite cam­pus in Utica, promis­ing that the aca­demic mis­sion will “pro­ceed with­out in­ter­rup­tion.”

The move came as Cuomo blamed SUNY for the scan­dal, say­ing its pro­cure­ment sys­tem opened the door to mas­sive fraud. SUNY of­fi­cials didn’t dis­pute Cuomo’s as­ser­tion.

Asked dur­ing a stop in Syracuse to ex­plain al­le­ga­tions of “cor­rup­tion hap­pen­ing in your of­fice, right un­der your nose,” Cuomo he knew noth­ing be­cause “this hap­pened through the State Uni­ver­sity of New York, the SUNY sys­tem’s pur­chas­ing and pro­cure­ment process. And the al­le­ga­tions are that nine in­di­vid­u­als ba­si­cally de­frauded the pro­cure­ment process.”

Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors have also al­leged Cuomo’s for­mer top aide, Joe Per­coco, took hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in bribes from a util­ity com­pany seek­ing state guar­an­tees for power pur­chases worth mil­lions of dol­lars. Those al­leged pay­offs had noth­ing to do with SUNY.

In Syracuse, Cuomo re­peated his state­ment that he knew noth­ing about the cor­rup­tion scheme un­til the FBI swooped in and charged nine of his as­so­ci­ates. One has al­ready pleaded guilty to all charges, lob­by­ist Todd Howe of Wash­ing­ton, D.C., a long­time aide and as­so­ci­ate of the Cuomo fam­ily.

Cuomo has not been ac­cused of any wrong­do­ing.

The al­leged SUNY crimes in­volve both Howe and Kaloyeros, who is cred­ited with build­ing SUNY Poly, rec­og­nized in­ter­na­tion­ally as a cen­ter for tech­nol­ogy re­search and de­vel­op­ment. He was sus­pended with­out pay as pres­i­dent of SUNY Poly af­ter his ar­rest and his pres­ence has been wiped from the cam­pus, in­clud­ing the re­moval of bill­board size photo posters he had erected of him­self pos­ing with Cuomo and oth­ers.

It doesn’t ap­pear Kaloyeros is go­ing qui­etly. “Never kick me when I’m down, be­cause when I get back up ... you’re f---d,” he posted this week in a meme on Face­book that was later taken down.

As he had in Buf­falo when news of the ar­rests first broke, Cuomo fo­cused his Syracuse com­ments on the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment projects, not the bomb­shell charges that his aides and donors con­spired to fix con­tracts in ex­change for money for his re-elec­tion cam­paign and bribes.

“My fo­cus is on get­ting the projects up and get­ting the projects run­ning,” Cuomo said. “The de­vel­op­ers that the U.S. At­tor­ney is look­ing at, ba­si­cally the ser­vice they pro­vided was they built build­ings. We have the build­ings, the build­ings were built. The build­ings were built on time and on bud­get and we’re now us­ing the build­ings.”

“If the U.S. At­tor­ney proves that the state was ripped off and it cost the tax­pay­ers money, we’ll go af­ter that money to re­turn it to the tax­pay­ers,” he added. “But we have the build­ings, the build­ings are built. I now want to make sure and move for­ward to get those busi­ness in those build­ing and get those jobs cre­ated, be­cause that’s what it’s all about.” The build­ing projects are lo­cated in Al­bany, Syracuse and Buf­falo, where the big­gest has been com­pleted — a $750 mil­lion state-owned fac­tory for a com­pany called So­larCity.

Lob­by­ist Howe, 56, has pleaded guilty and is co­op­er­at­ing with U.S. At­tor­ney Preet Bharara’s pros­e­cu­tion of the oth­ers. Howe, who was a con­fi­dant of Cuomo and a for­mer close aide to Mario Cuomo, pleaded guilty to eight felony charges re­lat­ing to hon­est ser­vices fraud, ex­tor­tion, wire fraud, bribery and tax fraud. He faces 20 years in prison.

The oth­ers fac­ing an as­sort­ment of felony charges in­clude his for­mer top aide Per­coco, 47, of South Salem; SUNY Poly Pres­i­dent Alain Kaloyeros, 60, of Slinger­lands; Joseph Ni­colla, 59, of Sch­enec­tady, the pres­i­dent of Columbia De­vel­op­ment; Peter Gal­braith Kelly Jr., 53, of Can­ter­bury, Con­necti­cut, a util­ity ex­ec­u­tive ac­cused of mak­ing pay­offs to Per­coco; Steven Aiello, 58 of Fayetteville, pres­i­dent of COR De­vel­op­ment, a SUNY con­trac­tor; Joseph Ger­ardi, 57, of Fayetteville, COR’s gen­eral coun­sel; Louis Ciminelli, 61, of Buf­falo, the pres­i­dent of LCCiminelli; and com­pany ex­ec­u­tives Michael Laip­ple, 51, of Or­chard Park; and Kevin Schuler, 45 of North Ton­awand, who are charged with help­ing to rig state con­tracts so that LPCiminelli would be cho­sen to build the $750 mil­lion fac­tory Cuomo is leas­ing to So­larCity for $1 a year.

WILL WAL­DRON — THE AL­BANY TIMES UNION VIA AP

Alain Kaloyeros, pres­i­dent of SUNY Polytech­nic In­sti­tute awaits his ar­raign­ment on state charges while sit­ting in a court­room at Al­bany City Court­house on Sept. 23 in Al­bany. The state com­plaint al­leges Kaloyeros agreed to steer con­struc­tion con­tract awards to hand-picked com­pa­nies.

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