U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is subpoening a State University of New York research facility as part of a probe into Gov. Cuomo’s much-ballyhooed “Buffalo Billion” economic development plan.
SUNY Polytechnic Institute entered into a $1.5 million contract with the Manhattan white-collar criminal-defense law firm Kelley Drye and Warren in the Bharara investigation, according to records filed with the state Comptroller’s Office. “Buffalo is really the poster child for the turnaround of upstate New York”.
SUNY Polytechnic Institute, which is headed by the politically-connected Dr. Alain Kaloyeros, received subpoenas seeking documents and other information in recent months, sources familiar with the probe said.
In June, the Times Union published an Investigative Post article on the Buffalo Billion project that detailed how one of Cuomo’s largest campaign contributors from the Buffalo area, Louis Ciminelli, was awarded the main construction contracts to build the Buffalo Billion high-tech facilities, including the $900 million Solar City factory.
Governor Cuomo announced the Buffalo Billion during the 2012 State of the State address, and Western New Yorkers have been excited about the money it is pumping into the region.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who has been investigating corruption in Albany, has started to inquire about the bidding practices into the Buffalo Billion initiative, according to sources and media reports. “To our knowledge, neither SUNY Poly nor any of its employees are the target of any investigation”, the statement said. “It’s going great. Beyond that I have no idea”.
Cuomo was asked by reporters Friday if there is a concern when winning bidders in contracts also make big campaign contributions, which is legal.
“You have to remember, I was the former attorney general”, said Cuomo, who was the state’s top lawyer from 2007 through 2010.
A call to Kaloyeros wasn’t returned Friday. “Anyone who takes a bribe should go to jail”, he said. Cuomo said Friday that he has total confidence in Kaloyeros.
Walter G. Barber, chairman of the Fort Schuyler board and chief administrative officer of Fuller Road Management Corp., the entity that runs SUNY Poly’s Albany campus, could not be reached for comment.