‘Buffalo Billion’ tab is 3 years
Federal judge rejects Syracuse developer’s bid for leniency
If the Albany-based lawyers for Syracuse developer Steven Aiello thought their unorthodox bid for leniency would spare their client prison time, they picked the wrong judge as an audience.
U.S. District Court Judge Valerie Caproni on Friday sentenced Aiello, the 60-yearold president of COR Development, to three years in federal prison for his convictions in two high-profile corruption trials. She also fined him $500,000.
Aiello became the third defendant sentenced this week in the “Buffalo Billion” bidrigging scandal — and received, so far, the stiffest sentence from Caproni. COR’S general counsel, Joseph Gerardi, was sentenced Thursday to 2 1/2 years. Buffalo developer Louis Ciminelli was sentenced Monday to 28 months. Like Aiello, both were fined $500,000.
On Tuesday, SUNY Polytechnic Institute founder Alain Kaloyeros will be sentenced. He was convicted in July alongside the three development executives.
Aiello’s attorneys, Steve Coffey, Pamela Nichols and Scott Iseman, last month sent the judge a letter asking for a sentence of no more than six
months. They highlighted more than 200 letters — from the likes of Syracuse University men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim and Onondaga County Sheriff Eugene Conway — attesting to Aiello’s qualities.
“Dear Judge Caproni: You do not know Steven F. Aiello,” the letter began.
The lawyers wrote that they wished the judge could have a cup of coffee with Aiello in Syracuse and tour the city’s North Side where neighbors and friends would cross the street “to thank Steve for some advice or some silent act by Steve or his company, COR Development.”
The judge might have hinted that she was unmoved by the letter when she subsequently denied a request from the defense to move the proceeding into a larger venue to accommodate what the defense said would be a large contingent of Aiello’s supporters.
Contacted after the sentencing, Coffey said he would appeal the conviction. “We expect to win,” the lawyer said, declining to get into specifics. “He’s not guilty.”
Aiello was convicted first in March of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud for funneling $35,000 to Joseph Percoco, a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in exchange for state action. Aiello sought a “labor peace agreement” for a parking lot COR wanted to build near a hotel project near Syracuse’s, wanted the state to expedite the release of money it owed him, and wanted a raise for his son, Steven, who worked for the governor.
Percoco was sentenced in September to a six-year sentence.
In July, a second jury convicted Aiello and Ciminelli, the Buffalo developer, of wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy for his part in a bid-rigging scheme. Prosecutors said Aiello, Gerardi, Ciminell and Kaloyeros conspired to rig the bids on $855 million in state contracts for SUNY Poly-related projects to benefit COR and Lpciminelli.
Both companies and their executives were generous donors to Cuomo’s campaigns.