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NY taxpayers to pay $450G for ‘Buffalo Billion’ review

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on June 25,

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on June 25, 2015 in Albany. Photo Credit: AP / Mike Groll

ALBANY

New York taxpayers will have to pay up to $450,000 for an internal review of one of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s signature economic development projects -- which is already the subject of a federal investigation.

Cuomo, a Democrat, has executed a contract to pay Bart Schwartz, a former federal prosecutor, to review the propriety of the so-called “Buffalo Billion,” an economic-development initiative, and other nanotechnology projects overseen by the State University of New York, records show.

Cuomo announced he had retained Schwartz in April, after U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office began looking into contracts involved in the Buffalo Billion. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman also is looking at possible bid rigging involving SUNY projects.

New Yorkers, now, will have to pick up the bill for the internal review.

Cuomo repeatedly has portrayed the probe as focused on just two individuals, Joseph Percoco, his former closest confidante, and Todd Howe, a lobbyist with long-standing ties to the governor and his father, the late Mario Cuomo.

However, federal investigators, who have subpoenaed Cuomo’s office, several state agencies and a number of businesses, haven’t characterized the limits of the inquiry. Investigators have subpoenaed the governor’s office for records of communications with about 20 companies, a source has confirmed, that were involved in projects in Buffalo as well as in Syracuse, Albany and the Hudson Valley, as well as communications from several high-ranking Cuomo officials.

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