Buffalo billion probe continues, federal investigators hone in on top Cuomo aide

Preet Bharara
FILE- In this May 28, 2013 file photo, Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, addresses a news conference, in New York. The federal prosecutor is believed to be investigating Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature economic development project, the Buffalo Billion, which awarded significant state money to companies run by Cuomo donors. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara will will look at whether that top aide, Joe Percoco, represented private sector clients who had business before the state as part of the “Buffalo Billion.”

In his first public comments since Fridays subpoena of his office, the Governor defends his longtime senior adviser and the Buffalo Billion program.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “The Buffalo Billion, which is an upstate development program is being run well and and their tax dollars are being protected.”

That includes the payments Percoco took from state contractors when he was running the Governor’s 2014 campaign. Cuomo said, “When you leave state government you can work in the private sector and you can represent private sector companies.”

Cuomo now wants his own internal review of the program as U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s probe continues. An annual filing of his finances with a state ethics agency shows Percoco reported getting paid “consulting fees” by CHA Consulting and COR Development CHA is based out of Albany and did civil engineering work on the Solarcity project.

The Federal Prosecutors are trying to see if someone in a public position who had the ability to influence who got a bid got paid to influence them and where the bid went.

Buffalo Attorney Paul Cambria says he’s not surprised this investigation is underway. Cambria said, “Look at history. Look at the history in our community. Anytime there has been a lot of money, and it’s a public project, there seems to be an investigation.”

Both companies that paid Percoco did business with the state through various programs administered by the Cuomo administration. Both are also major Cuomo campaign donors.

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