BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called out SUNY Polytechnic leader Alain Kaloyeros for what his office claims is blatant bid-rigging in the Buffalo Billion project, including Solar City.
“This is an inexcusable way for a state official to behave. This is an inexcusable way to do business in the state of New York,” Schneiderman said in a news conference Thursday.
“This scheme is unusual in it’s brazenness. I mean, this is remarkable.”
Kaloyeros is suspended from his position without pay, but he’s just one piece of the pie.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara released an 80-page criminal complaint Thursday morning, detailing allegations of bribery and bid-rigging against a handful of state political players and local business leaders. Nine men are mentioned in the complaint, three of them are executives at LPCiminelli .
“Today’s complaint shines a light on yet another sordid side of the ‘show me the money’ culture that has so plagued government in Albany,” Bharara said.
“Companies got rich and the public got bamboozled,” the U.S. Attorney continued.
One name in the complaint is former lobbyist Todd Howe, who’s close to the Cuomo family.
“The charges have already been proven,” Bharara said, referring to Howe. Howe pled guilty to eight federal counts is coopering with the government.
“As to the other eight men, the charges at this stage are still merely allegations. But we intend to prove every single one of them at a fair trial in federal court.”
Lawmakers in Erie County reacted Thursday to a big stain on a project that hits very close to home; the bid for the Solar City project.
The criminal complaints claims it wasn’t really a bid at all, but a hand out to a favorite.
“If there is issues of corruption in government it needs to be prosecuted against,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.
“No matter who it is, even at the highest levels of government or for that matter, business,” Poloncarz continued.
The investigation, which spans between the Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney’s office, is far from over.
Neither Bharara nor Schneiderman would say how far up the ladder this goes.
“It’s an ongoing investigation, and I don’t want to comment further than that,” Schneiderman told the press Thursday.
Governor Cuomo released a statement Thursday afternoon following news of the complaint:
“I learned this morning of the charges filed by the U.S. Attorney’s office that include a former member of my administration. If the allegations are true, I am saddened and profoundly disappointed. I hold my administration to the highest level of integrity. I have zero tolerance for abuse of the public trust from anyone. If anything, a friend should be held to an even higher standard. Like my father before me, I believe public integrity is paramount. This sort of breach, if true, should be and will be punished.
“SUNY has rightly relieved Alain Kaloyeros from his duties and has suspended him without pay, effective immediately.
“This matter is now in the hands of the court, which is exactly where it belongs. My administration will continue to be fully cooperative in the matter as we have been since it began.”
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown also issued a statement regarding the corruption case:
“The trust of the public is very important, and any abuse of that trust is unacceptable. As the Governor said, if the allegations prove to be true, that will be very disappointing. However, the progress and growth in the City of Buffalo over the past decade is real, and I do not want to see our momentum impeded or stymied in any way. We should be proud of the great progress that has been made in the City of Buffalo, and across the State of New York, by many, many hard-working people.”