Federal prosecutor Preet Bharara’s investigation into the Buffalo Billion is part of a larger probe into other development projects, including the Buffalo Schools Construction Project, sources close to the investigation said Friday.
The first hint of an investigation by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney came in the form of subpoenas demanding information on several large-scale state initiatives, many of them with close ties to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Albany.
Sources said the subpoenas went out across the state and seek documents and records regarding the bidding process on those projects, as well as any communication between state officials and private contractors.
Sources familiar with the investigation told The Buffalo News that the subpoenas also demand records and documents connected to the Buffalo Schools Construction Project, an 11-year, $1.3 billion program to renovate 48 city schools.
Even though the renovations are complete, Buffalo school board members Carl Paladino and Larry Quinn have criticized the fixed-price contract used on the project and suggested tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money remain unaccounted for.
LP Ciminelli, the chief contractor on the schools project, called the criticism part of a personal vendetta directed at Louis P. Ciminelli, the company’s chairman and CEO.
Ciminelli, a major contributor to Cuomo’s political campaigns, is also the general contractor on SolarCity, a $900 million solar panel factory being built at South Buffalo’s RiverBend complex. The plant is the centerpiece of Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion.
Daniel C. Oliverio, a well-known white-collar defense attorney, confirmed he’s representing Ciminelli but declined to comment on Bharara’s investigation.
The leaks are coming fast and furious today.
First the NY Post story that Bharara had launched an investigation into Cuomo's Buffalo Billion project, looking at the bidding process and the awarding of contracts.
Then came the Daily News story that SUNY had been a recipient of subpoenas related to the probe.
Now we have the Buffalo News reporting that the same contractor/Cuomo donor who seemed to be the recipient of a rigged contract in the Buffalo Billion project is also the contractor for the Buffalo Schools Construction project, a $1.3 billion dollar renovation program that has tens of millions of funds missing.
Cuomo said today that there's no "there" there in this story.
On the contrary - the longer the day went on, the more leaks we got showing just how much "there" there really is.