Michael Yevoli, the Regional President of Empire State Development’s Capitol Region, is seemingly at the center of the public corruption scandal that has engulfed the administration of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration — but hasn’t been indicted in the federal investigation launched by former United States Attorney Preet Bharara.
A source, claiming to be retired from law enforcement, tells The Chronicle that Yevoli was questioned in the federal probe initiated in April of 2016 — and that his computer and phone were confiscated by the FBI in June of 2016.
By September of 2016, eight men were indicted in a wide ranging corruption scandal: Joe Percoco, Alain Kaloyeros, Lou Ciminelli, Michael Lapple, Kevin Schulyer, Joe Geradi, Steve Aiello, and Joe Nicolla. Nicolla, the CEO of Columbia Development, was Yevoli’s recent employer.
Yevoli was not among the eight men indicted in the Southern District.
Following questioning in Albany in April of 2016, Yevoli was tailed by the FBI — and, our source tells us, that he was tailed directly to Nicolla’s home outside of Albany following that meeting with investigators.
Yevoli began his job as Regional President of Empire State Development a short number of months earlier, in February of 2016. From July 2014 to February 2016, he worked for Nicolla as Director of Development and Planning of Columbia Development.
Prior to that position, Yevoli served as the Commissioner of Development and Planning for the City of Albany; and, simultaneously, as CEO of Capitalize Albany Corporation, the city’s economic development entity.
It was in that role that Yevoli is thought to have helped Kaloyeros draft and approve the Request for Proposals that prosecutors allege was intended for Nicolla’s Columbia Development.
Prosecutors contends Kaloyeros steered business to Nicolla — including letting the developer know full details of the contract requirements for a SUNY Polytech dorm project a month before the request for proposals was issued. Investigators are in possession of an email that was allegedly sent 20 minutes after the college’s nonprofit development arm, Fuller Road Management Corporation, approved the specifications, which were not public.
Nicolla and members of his family and organizations connected to him have donated nearly $650,000 to New York politicians since the start of 2010, the Albany TImes Union reports. Cuomo’s campaigns have received $132,700 from those donors — plus a $50,000 contribution from Jessica Winningham, Nicolla’s wife.
Before the Request for Proposals was made public, Columbia Development purchased a cluster of homes on Loughlin Street. The firm would later propose building a student housing complex there, adjacent to the SUNY Polytechnic Institute. Despite paying more than $4 million for the ten homes, at prices double their assessed value, Columbia expected a substantial profit.
The $24 million student housing complex, had it come to fruition, would have made the firm $3.8 million in profit.
In an internal September 2015 document, Columbia Development expected to pocket $2.1 million from a $15 million contract to build the dorm, and $1.7 million from an $8.9 million contract for the associated parking.
Yevoli graduated from the State University of New York at Oneonta with a degree in Urban & Regional Planning in 1992. He graduated from Amsterdam High School in 1988.