BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The three executives of LPCiminelli, including CEO Louis P. Ciminelli, were arrested at their homes early Thursday morning, allowed to get hastily dressed, and taken to the federal lockup downtown.
In addition to Ciminelli, U.S. marshals arrested Michael Laipple and Kevin Schuler. All three men are charged with wire fraud conspiracy and bribery. Schuler’s attorney Terrence Connors objected to what he called the “heavy handed” way the arrests were carried out.
“To be taken out of your home, in front of your children at 7:00 in the morning. The way things are normally done is you are given some notice, and you appear in court voluntarily, which clearly we would have done.”
The government’s complaint accuses the Ciminelli executives of engaging in a scheme to rig the bidding process so that it virtually eliminated the competition for the contract to build the SolarCity plant at RiverBend, and other aspects of Gov. Cuomo’s “Buffalo Billion”.
Attorneys for the three Ciminelli executives adamantly denied the accusations. Herb Greenman, Laipple’s attorney, said they have denied any guilt, “We have said we are prepared to go forward on Monday–and we are–and that is not lightly taken, when we asked to go ahead with the hearing within three days. We are prepared to go forward because we feel that these three men are innocent–they are innocent.”
Daniel Oliverio, representing Ciminelli, said, “I can say this unequivocally, there was no bribery here, there was no crime committed. This is a total rush to judgment, and I wish everyone would withhold their judgment.until we are done in this case.”
U.S. Magistrate Michael Roemer released the three defendants on their own recognizance, without having to post a bond, and they are due back in court Monday morning for a preliminary hearing, which could turn out to be a mini-trial on the evidence already presented.
The defense lawyers are also vowed to fight to have their clients tried in Buffalo—if their case goes to trial—rather than in New York City. If convicted on the named charges, all three men could face lengthy prison time and heavy fines.