Key players granted bail in Buffalo Billion corruption case

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge has granted bail to a prominent Buffalo developer and other businessmen serving prison time for a bid-rigging scheme related to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion economic redevelopment program.

U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni signed an order Friday allowing developer Louis Ciminelli and three others to be released after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal of their wire fraud convictions.

The justices are expected to take up the case during their next term, which begins in October.

The high court also agreed to hear the related case of Joseph Percoco, a former Cuomo aide convicted in 2018 of accepting more than $300,000 from companies that wanted to gain influence with the Cuomo administration.

It was not immediately clear whether Percoco also would be released on bail.

Among the issues in the case is whether private citizens with official connections may be convicted of honest-services fraud.

Ciminelli was convicted in a pay-to-play conspiracy in which his firm won a development job worth a half billion dollars. Prosecutors called the scheme an “enormous fraud” and said it involved state-funded contracts worth more than $850 million being steered to favored developers.

Also granted bail on Friday were developers Steven Aiello and Joe Gerardi, executives at Syracuse-based COR Development, and Alain Kaloyeros, formerly the president of the State University of New York’s Polytechnic Institute.

Prosecutors said Kaloyeros arranged for Ciminelli and his company LPCiminelli to win a development job in Buffalo worth a half billion dollars.

Cuomo was not charged or accused of wrongdoing, but the criminal proceedings tarnished a program the former governor had made a centerpiece of his efforts to lift the upstate economy.