‘Buf­falo Bil­lion’ tab is 3 years

Fed­eral judge re­jects Syra­cuse de­vel­oper’s bid for le­niency

Albany Times Union - - FRONT PAGE - By Robert Gavin

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.


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