Sunday, January 1, 2017

U.S. attorney fingers Napa man

The Niagara Gazette published the story below about criminal charges brought against Louis Ciminelli in New York. He's also involved in a controversial timber removal plan in the mountains above Napa Valley:

TOP 10: Local developer faces charges in Buffalo Billion probe (No. 5)

Dec. 27 from staff reports:

In news that shocked the region on Sept. 22, a high-profile developer and political power player was brought to U.S. District Court in Buffalo to face charges of wire fraud and bribery.
Louis P. Ciminelli, along with two other LPCiminelli development company executives, has been accused of paying an Albany lobbyist $100,000 to rig the bidding process for the $750 million Solar City complex construction project, a part of the Buffalo Billion program.
Charged along with Ciminelli, were prominent Pendleton resident Kevin Schuler, a senior vice president with the company, and Michael Laipple, LPCiminelli’s Infrastructure Division president.
Also charged in the indictment on Sept. 22 were Alain Kaloyeros, the former president of SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Joseph Percoco, the former executive deputy secretary to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Syracuse energy company executive Peter Galbraith Kelly Jr., and Syracuse developers Steven Aiello and Joseph Gerardi.
The indictments followed a year-long investigation by agents in the FBI’s Buffalo Field Office, along with investigators from the office of Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
“(The) complaint sheds a light on the sordid ‘Show me the money’ culture in Albany,” Bharara said. “(It was) hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes for hundreds of millions of dollars in business.”
Bharara acknowledged the role of the media in the investigation, highlighting the work of Investigative Post, a partner organization to the Niagara Gazette that is led by longtime investigative journalist Jim Heaney and a small staff of dedicated reporters.
“That case got started because journalists in Buffalo and elsewhere started to write that there were shenanigans they believe that were going on with the bidding of contracts in Buffalo,” Bharara said. “And you know what we did? We started to investigate.”
All eight men pleaded not guilty to a 14-count indictment in federal court on Nov. 22.
Percoco was Cuomo’s executive deputy secretary and one of his most loyal advisers.
The Democratic governor is not accused of wrongdoing.
Cuomo, who has denied any knowledge of the alleged corruption, has said, “… this is a profoundly sad situation for me personally. Now the justice system must take its course, and any of those found guilty of abusing the public’s trust should and will be punished.”
The government says evidence including about 2 million pages of documents will be ready for defense review in early 2017.
Percoco’s attorney says it’s unclear how long it will take to prepare for trial.
Ciminelli’s defense attorney, Daniel Oliverio, said his client did nothing wrong.
“These allegations are a complete mischaracterization of the facts,” he said. “These men are innocent. There is no plea. We are going to trial and we’re going to be acquitted. We have employees and a company we want to vindicate.”
LPCiminelli’s local projects include the Niagara Falls Police headquarters and Niagara Falls City Court, the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute, the new Maid of the Mist winter docks and a half dozen Niagara Falls School District projects.

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