Kaloyeros’ cooperation may throw Ciminelli defendants under the bus

Alain Kaloyeros, the former head of SUNY Polytechnic and a principle target of public corruption charges that have engulfed the administration of Governor Andrew Cuomo, is widely thought to be cooperating with the United States Attorney’s office.

Earlier this week it was announced that Joe Nicolla, among the original indictees in the probe, will be testifying against Kaloyeros at his federal trial to begin in June.  Nicolla is the President of Columbia Development and was alleged to have engaged in a bid rigging scheme. Those allegations had been handed over to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office.

Several political operatives close to the Governor are worried that Kaloyeros’ testimony will implicate Cuomo in several ‘contracts-for-campaign contribution’ arrangements.

Ciminelli’s two deputies — Michael Lapple and Kevin Schulyer — may play the role of the scapegoat. There has been much chatter at the Capitol that the Governor’s strategists have been troubleshooting ways to reframe the narrative, likely casting Cuomo as the victim of two money driven executives intoxicated by their own lust for corporate bonuses.

Kaloyeros is said to have been ‘deeply shaken’ following the stunning guilty verdict on three of six felony charges against Joe Percoco, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s chief political enforcer.  Percoco had long been referred to as Mario Cuomo’s “third son,” and faces a possible 50 years in prison when sentenced.

Kaloyeros allowed Ciminelli executives to improperly edit a Request for Proposals — inserting a requirement that only firms with a 50 year operating history would be considered eligible to bid.  A large body of emails obtained by the prosecution are said to ‘spell out’ the arrangement ‘step-by-step.’

Kaloyeros allowed Nicolla to similarly influence a public bidding process for a SUNY Polytech project in the Albany area. Nicolla is now acting as a principle witness against Kaloyeros in both federal and state trials against Kaloyeros.

Kaloyeros was once the highest paid public employee in New York, making more than $800,000 annually, before he was indicted on three counts of wire fraud. He was tapped by Cuomo to lead economic development projects across upstate, including those related to the now-disgraced Buffalo Billion program.

The Solar City project included a $750 million subsidy from taxpayers. It is now considered by many as a failed symbol of public corruption and political graft.

Although more than 1,500 jobs were promised at the South Buffalo factory, the massive structure sits largely empty, with the exception of a few dozen ‘call center’ positions.  Applicants with engineering degrees have been offered salaries of $30,000 a year at the facility, provoking outrage among many activists.

The actual cost of that structure’s construction was less than half of the state’s $750 million subsidy, experts in the construction industry have since alleged.  That margin would not be atypical of Ciminelli’s work on government funded construction projects. Buffalo School Board members have alleged that Ciminelli took a 40% profit margin on the $1.2 billion school reconstruction project initiated under Governor George Pataki.

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