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Corruption trial starts in Buffalo Billion case

NEW YORK – the former president of the State University of New York at the Polytechnic Institute was alternately portrayed as a hero or a villain at the opening of a corruption trial Monday on upstate construction projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Zhou told a Manhattan jury that Alain Kaloyeros made sure that the “fix was in” as his preferred developers received lucrative deals in a development plan known as the Buffalo Billion.

But lawyer Reid Weingarten depicted Kaloyeros, a 62-year-old Lebanese-born scientist, as “a hero in Albany” to create high-tech jobs in a completely legal effort to honor Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “request to spread the wonder” to upstate New York.

Kaloyeros is accused of conspiring with construction and real estate managers to rig bids for lucrative projects in Buffalo and Syracuse — a claim that Weingarten said the defense team would “blow … to the philistines.”

The lawyer said that it will be as “child’s play” to prove that the registration is not in favor of the defendants. Repeatedly he referred to his client as “Dr. K.”.

The trial is the second, which is highly dependent on the e-mails from a long-time consultant with close ties to Cuomo. Lawyers for Kaloyeros and three co-defendants promised to show jurors that the consultant, Todd Howe, was responsible for all the crimes that took place.

The first trial ended with the conviction of Joseph Percoco, a former assistant of the Democratic governor, and others on bribery and fraud charges. Howe’s testimony in Percoco the trial has led to Howe’s imprisonment after he admitted violating his cooperation agreement with the government. He will not testify at the second trial.

Cuomo was not accused of misconduct at trial.

Cuomo called Kaloyeros his “economic guru,” and the governor invited him to appear on the announcement of various economic development projects.

But Zhou said Kaloyeros, who led the Polytechnic Institute until he resigned in October 2016, made sure that the Buffalo-area developer Louis Ciminielli, 62, was a more than a half a billion dollar deal to build a high-tech factory in Buffalo and Syracuse-based COR Development, including (top) managers Steven Aiello, 60, and Joe Gerardi, 58, received a $100 million deal to build a factory and a film studio in Syracuse.

“This is a case about lying and cheating to a large state construction projects for hundreds of millions of dollars,” Zhou said.

Are among some and others in his company, LPCiminelli, contributed nearly $100,000 to Cuomo’s 2014 re-election campaign while COR-managers and their family members contributed $125,000 to Cuomo’s campaign.

Lawyers for Ciminielli, Aiello and Gerardi blame Howe for the lubrication of their customers ‘ good names, saying, he was the criminal.

“No crimes were committed here,” said lawyer Steve Coffey, representing Aiello.

“My client is not guilty of anything,” said Milton Williams, Gerardi attorney. “This is a case about how my client, Joe Gerardi, was a victim of Todd Howe.”

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