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NY is 'ripe for abuse,' critics say after convictions in Kaloyeros corruption trial

NY is 'ripe for abuse,' critics say after convictions in Kaloyeros corruption trial

Syracuse Post-Standard, July 12, 2018

Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for governor, said the state needs a new Moreland Commission to investigate corruption. Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara launched the federal investigation that led to Kaloyeros' trial after Cuomo shut down a previous Moreland Commission.

"It is time to reopen a Moreland Commission on Public Corruption and let it do its work without the governor shutting it down when it gets close to him," Hawkins said. "I believe Preet Bharara might be available."

Alain Kaloyeros, former SUNY Polytechnic Institute president, was convicted today in a bid-rigging trial along with two Cor Development executives and a Buffalo builder.

Alain Kaloyeros, former SUNY Polytechnic Institute president, was convicted today in a bid-rigging trial along with two Cor Development executives and a Buffalo builder. (Ellen M. Blalock)

By Tim Knauss

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today quickly distanced himself from Alain Kaloyeros, the man he once referred to as a genius and "New York's secret weapon,'' after Kaloyeros and three other men were convicted of bid-rigging.

"The jury has spoken and justice has been done,'' Cuomo said in a prepared statement. "There can be no tolerance for those who seek to defraud the system to advance their own personal interests. Anyone who has committed such an egregious act should be punished to the full extent of the law."

Other were quick to assign blame for the corruption scandal to the governor.

"Andrew Cuomo is either corrupt or he is spectacularly incompetent,'' said Cynthia Nixon, who is running against Cuomo in the Democratic primary. "Either way, the facts from the trials of Joe Percoco and Alain Kaloyeros lead to only one conclusion: We can't clean up Albany until we clean out the governor's mansion.''

Percoco, the governor's former executive deputy secretary, was convicted in March of honest services fraud and soliciting bribes after a previous trial stemming from the same federal investigation.

Marc Molinaro, the Republican candidate for governor, also heaped blame on Cuomo.

"Make no question what was really found guilty was the reckless pay to play, incompetence of Andrew Cuomo's administration,'' Molinaro said in a prepared statement. "He has empowered, emboldened and encouraged individuals to bend the rules, rig the system and defraud taxpayers."

Government watchdog groups said the convictions showed how vulnerable the state's economic development policy has been to corruption. They urged Cuomo to stop using state-controlled nonprofit organizations to direct taxpayer-fundedĀ  projects.

"The state's use of state-controlled nonprofits like the Fort Schuyler and Fuller Road Management Corporations and SUNY Research Foundation to award billions in taxpayer-funded grants is ripe for abuse, pay to play and corruption,'' said a statement from NYPIRG, Citizens Budget Commission, Reinvent Albany and Fiscal Policy Institute.

Fort Schuyler Management Corp., which was at the center of the just-ended trial, was not subject to state procurement rules or independent oversight by the comptroller. As the federal investigation unfolded, Cuomo transferred oversight of Fort Schuyler projects to Empire State Development, the state economic development agency.

Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for governor, said the state needs a new Moreland Commission to investigate corruption. Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara launched the federal investigation that led to Kaloyeros' trial after Cuomo shut down a previous Moreland Commission.

"It is time to reopen a Moreland Commission on Public Corruption and let it do its work without the governor shutting it down when it gets close to him," Hawkins said. "I believe Preet Bharara might be available."

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