Jim Heaney of Investigative Post, whose reporting foreshadowed the ongoing federal probe of developer contracts awarded under the Buffalo Billion program, took to the airwaves over the weekend of offer his take on U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s investigation.
Heaney told Maryalice Demler of WGRZ Friday evening that the probe will almost certainly focus on Alain Kaloyeros, the Albany nanotech guru who is quarterbacking the Buffalo Billion program.
Sunday, in an interview with Dave Debo of WBEN News Radio, 930 AM, Heaney covered a range of related issues, including the investigation, the state’s pay to play culture and the significance of Bharara’s interest in allegations that LPCiminelli may have overcharged the Buffalo school system hundreds of millions of dollars to manage the reconstruction of scores of school buildings.
Ken Lovett reports that behind the scenes, many think Kaloyeros will end up the target of a criminal investigation:
The Daily News first reported Friday that Kaloyeros’ SUNY Polytechnic Institute had been issued subpoenas as part of US Attorney Preet Bharara’s probe into Gov. Cuomo’s “Buffalo Billion” economic development initiative.
“To our knowledge, Alain Kaloyeros is not the target of any government inquiry and we have no reason to believe otherwise,” a SUNY spokesman said.
Others aren’t so sure that won’t change.
“He may not be the target right now, but I would think that Preet, now that’s he looking, would be more than happy to open up the books at SUNY Poly and see if he can find anything,” a one-time aide to a former governor said.
Kaloyeros for nearly three decades has built up the state’s growing tech industry through deals that brought in tens of billions of dollars in public and private investments.
During that time he has worked with five different governors and key legislative leaders, several who found themselves the subject of criminal charges. Kaloyeros has strong ties with Cuomo, who on Friday said he continues to have full faith in him. Kaloyeros has not been charged with any crime.
With a total compensation package of $811,000, Kaloyeros is one of the state’s highest-paid employees.
In addition, another developer in the Buffalo Billion project, McGuire, is said to be a focus of Bharara's investigation.
Unlike LP Ciminelli, McGuire hadn't been a big contributor to Cuomo - until they got the Buffalo Billion contract:
The third major development contract awarded for Buffalo Billion work involves renovations to a downtown office tower to accommodate IBM and 500 jobs that would create a technology hub.McGuire Development got that work, which includes building renovations and equipment purchases totaling $55 million in state assistance. Work is scheduled to start this summer or fall. IBM expects to phase in jobs over the next five years and attract other technology firms.Unlike LPCiminelli, McGuire wasn't a big-time Cuomo contributor at the time the company was awarded the contract, having donated only $2,000 to the governor's campaign four years ago. But last May, three months after being awarded the Buffalo Billion work, McGuire wrote the Cuomo campaign a check for $25,000.
Jim Heaney told WBEN that SUNY and Cuomo administration officials have worked very hard to stymie reporting about the Buffalo Billion project.
Given the kinds of details you see here - a contractor/Cuomo donor who may have skimmed hundreds of millions from a Buffalo school renovation project given a rigged contract for the Buffalo Billion project worth $750 million, another contractor become a Cuomo donor after a project contract is given to them - you can see why they might want to keep things under the radar.
We'll see how this goes.
The story continues to have legs or perhaps I should say tentacles - and many of them link back to the Cuomo administration and Cuomo himself.