Three executives of Buffalo, N.Y., contractor LPCiminelli Inc., three New York state power and commercial project developers and the former president of the State University of New York-Albany’s Polytechnic Institute are among nine charged on Sept. 22 by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a 79-page federal criminal complaint related to bribery, bid- rigging, extortion and influence-peddling schemes on state-funded projects.
Also charged are two former top aides to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), Joseph Percoco and Todd R. Howe. Peter G. “Braith” Kelly, a former senior vice president of Competitive Power Ventures; Steven Aiello, president of COR Development, Syracuse, N.Y.; and that firm’s attorney, Joseph Gerardi, are charged with orchestrating the scheme to bribe Percoco. Kelly is charged with seeking influence to win a $100-million power purchase agreement with the state that would help the company to get financing to build the $900-million Valley gas-fired plant in Wawayanda, N.Y. Percoco and Howe, who is also a lobbyist, continued to extort money from Kelly even after it became clear that the state would not award the agreement to CPV, the complaint said.
In a second scheme, Aiello and Gerardi, along with LPCiminelli President Louis Ciminelli; Michael Laipple, president of LPCiminelli Solutions; and contractor Senior Vice President Kevin Schuler are charged with paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to Howe, who was hired to help administer the state’s so-called Buffalo Billion economic development initiative and related programs, the document said. Buffalo Billions is Cuomo’s $1-billion investment commitment to the upstate city. Howe and Kaloyeros, also a key adviser to Cuomo on upstate development, are charged with secretly rigging bids on state contracts to ensure that COR and LPCiminelli would win. New York also filed separate felony charges against Kaloyeros and Joseph Nicolla, president of Columbia Development, Albany, for alleging bid rigging on three SUNY projects.
The companies were not charged in the complaint. The executives were arrested and face possible indictment. Howe pleaded guilty to the charges. Daniel Oliverio, attorney for the LPCiminelli executives, said they will plead not guilty “if and when” they are indicted at a court appearance in Manhattan on Oct. 6. Kelly’s hearing is set for Oct. 24. Lawyers for COR executives, Percoco and Kaloyeros could not be reached.