The founder of SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Alain Kaloyeros, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison and a $100,000 fine on Dec. 11, after a federal judge admonished him for directing $855 million in bids for state contracts to contributors of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in order to gain the governor’s favor.
U.S. District Court Judge Valerie Caproni reviewed the charges against Kaloyeros, stating that he’d deleted emails from a private account that discussed state business. The judge further commented that this particular corruption case was unusual because Kaloyeros didn’t benefit financially from the scheme, but rather sought a boost in political influence.
Kaloyeros steered bids to Buffalo construction management firm LPCiminelli and Syracuse development company COR Development—both companies contributed hefty donations to Cuomo’s re-election campaign. A spokeswoman for Cuomo announced in July that this money would be donated to charities, which she declined to name at the time.
Caproni stated that Kaloyeros’ “willingness to lie and cheat tainted the Buffalo Billion with fraud and cynicism.”
Kaloyeros, meanwhile, tearfully commented in court that he “enormous responsibility for the hurt and loss I have caused others,” and that he’d let down the people of New York, his friends and his colleagues at the nanotechnology institution.
Kaloyeros, who was found guilty of wire fraud and conspiracy in July, will remain free for the time being while his lawyers appeal his conviction.
The governor’s one-time top aide and campaign manager, Joseph Percoco, also faced legal woes when he was convicted of bribery-related fraud charges in September and sentenced to six years in jail.
Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative is intended to revitalize the economies of central and western New York, which have been feeling the effects of the post-Erie Canal era and the downfall of the local steel industry. Large companies such as Kodak and Xerox underwent massive layoffs, while engineering grads from nearby schools such as Syracuse triggered a “brain drain” by moving elsewhere in the country for jobs. Cuomo has sought to make upstate New York a new Silicon Valley of sorts, by enticing nanotechnology companies to set up shop and establish thousands of new jobs in the region.