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Saturday, February 4, 2023

Syracuse COR developers to face U.S. Supreme Court in appeal of bid-rigging case

Syracuse COR developers Steven Aiello and Joe Gerardi will face the U.S. Supreme Court in an appeal of their bid-rigging convictions.

CNY Central reports Steven Aiello and Joe Gerardi will appear Monday in Washington, D.C., as the nation’s highest court considers an argument that the “right to control” theory of the federal government’s case was constitutionally flawed. The theory argues that anyone who denies necessary fiscal information to an entity is criminally culpable for denying it the right to control its economic decisions.

Aiello and Gerardi filed a joint appeal with development executive Louis Ciminelli and former SUNY Polytechnic Institute President Alain Kaloyeros. Ciminelli was convicted of federal wire fraud and conspiracy in the “Buffalo Billion” program under then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, illegally steering state contracts to his company, LPCiminelli, for construction of a complex that now houses a Tesla plant in Buffalo.

Gerardi and Aiello were convicted of working with Kaloyeros to tailor a request for proposals from a state-affiliated development corporation to ensure that COR Development would win work in the Syracuse area. COR was later chosen to build a film studio (now known as the Greater Syracuse Soundstage) and a high-tech factory at its business park in DeWitt; the contracts totaled more than $100 million.

In their appeal, lawyers for Aiello and Gerardi said their actions do not constitute a crime, as the state suffered no loss of money or property by picking COR as a developer because the projects were completed as promised.

Aiello, Ciminelli, Gerardi and Kaloyeros were released from federal prison in July after the Supreme Court agreed to hear their case.

If the Supreme Court rules against them, Aiello and Gerardi will serve the remainder of their prison sentences. Aiello was sentenced to three years in federal prison and Gerardi was sentenced to 2 1/2 years.

If the court rules in their favor, SCOTUS Blog says eliminating the “right to control” theory of fraud would mean less risk of prison time for “sneaking to the front of the line” for government contracts with pre-negotiation talks.

In a related case, the Supreme Court also accepted a request to review the case of Joseph Percoco, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s right-hand man, who was convicted of three bribery-related felonies that included $35,000 he accepted from Syracuse’s COR while working on Cuomo’s campaign. Percoco was sentenced to six years in federal prison, but was released to a halfway house in December.

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