Corruption Trial Begins In Buffalo Billion Case

June 18, 2018 - 12:47 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880/AP) -- Defense lawyers told jurors at the start of a New York trial that they'll discover prosecutors were wrong to say a university president conspired with construction company executives to rig bids for upstate projects.
Several defense lawyers said the former president of the State University of New York's Polytechnic Institute and the executives had no criminal intent in their roles in the upstate development plan known as the Buffalo Billion. 
Lawyers for Alain Kaloyeros and three co-defendants say no wrongdoing occurred in bidding for the contracts. 

Kaloyeros, millionaire mastermind of the state's high-tech development efforts, is accused of secretly allowing developers who made large campaign donations to Cuomo to win nearly $1 billion in government contracts. 

He faces 30 years in prison if convicted.

The trial before Judge Valerie Caproni is the sequel to the trial that ended in April with the conviction of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's former top aide Joe Percoco on bribery and fraud charges. 

Cuomo, a Democrat, was not accused of wrongdoing in either case. 

But his political opponenets are seizing the moment.

Before heading into the trial, Republican Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess County Executive seeking to challenge Cuomo in the fall, has seized on the corruption trials as evidence of a pay-to-play culture in Albany and said the culture of corruption must end. He is calling for term limits and a vote banning pay-to-play.

"The governor has allowed for the exchange of taxpayer resources for campaign contributions and that's what's on trial," Molinaro said. "At the end of the day when we see corruption we call it out. The governor doesn't seem to know the difference between right and wrong. I'll say this, Cynthia Nixon and I do."

Nixon is also challenging Cuomo.

(© 2018 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)