In the third major political scandal to rock New York State government in the last two years, federal and state prosecutors have accused two former aides to Gov. Cuomo, another state official and executives from three private companies of numerous corruption charges relating to the awarding of hundreds of millions of dollars in Upstate economic development contracts.
Last Thursday, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced a criminal indictment which alleges that some of some of the state’s largest Upstate development projects were tainted by self-dealing and bid rigging. The 80-page complaint laid out charges against nine defendants, including the former Executive Deputy Secretary to the Governor and the president of SUNY Polytechnic Institute.
The case began as an investigation of the Buffalo Billion economic development project. The defendants are charged in a series of interconnected schemes in which money was provided in exchange for favored treatment to a developer and an energy company, and where $1 billion in projects were directed to two developers.
There are no charges lodged against the Governor, nor have there been any allegations that he engaged in any wrongdoing. However, one of the defendants had a central role in the Governor’s economic development efforts, and another was considered by the Governor to be a member of his family. Further, the complaint describes how the bribe-paying businesses also provided an airplane and political contributions to the Governor’s re-election campaign.
Referring to his prior convictions of the leaders of the State Senate and Assembly, Bharara said:
“Today’s charges shine a light on yet another sordid side of the show-me-the-money culture that has so plagued Albany. It turns out the State Legislature does not have a monopoly on crass corruption in New York.”
Gov. Cuomo released a statement, which read in part:
“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.”
In a separate complaint, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed state corruption charges against SUNY Poly President Alain Kaloyeros and an Albany-area developer alleging that Kaloyeros steered, or agreed to steer, the awarding of contracts to handpicked companies.
SUNY Chairman H. Carl McCall and Cuomo said Kaloyeros has been suspended from his position without pay.