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Source: Records involving 'Buffalo Billion' development project subpoenaed

This Sept. 2, 2015, photo shows a sign

This Sept. 2, 2015, photo shows a sign at the Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute in Albany. Photo Credit: AP / Mike Groll

ALBANY - A U.S. attorney has subpoenaed the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute for records involving the bids it awarded for the "Buffalo Billion" economic development project, a source told Newsday Friday.

The subpoena was issued by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York, the source said.

Cuomo created the Buffalo Billion project to use $1 billion in state resources and tax breaks over several years to revitalize Buffalo, which has suffered from a poor economy for decades. Cuomo cited the project as a key accomplishment of his first term in his re-election campaign last year.

Cuomo said Friday that neither he nor his employees have received subpoenas regarding the project.

"I don't know anything about that," Cuomo said. "I know we have had great success in Buffalo. Buffalo is really the poster child for the turnaround of upstate New York."

SUNY Polytechnic, which has led a high-tech initiative sought by Cuomo, said all its actions were proper. "To our knowledge, neither SUNY Poly nor any of its employees are the target of any investigation," said Jerry Gretzinger, vice president of strategic communications and public relations at SUNY Polytechnic, in a statement Friday.

State comptroller's office records show that SUNY Polytechnic entered into a $1.5 million contract in July with a criminal defense law firm to act as "special counsel." The record didn't identify the case on which the firm would work.

Earlier Friday, the New York Post reported that Bharara was investigating Cuomo's jobs projects in Buffalo and winning bidders who were also campaign contributors to Cuomo. The subpoena to the Polytechnic Institute was first reported by the Daily News.

The Buffalo developer selected for the Solar City project as part of the Buffalo Billion was LP Ciminelli. Its president, Louis Ciminelli, has donated $96,000 to Cuomo's election campaigns since 2010, according to state election records.

The company didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

SUNY Polytechnic Institute is headed by Alain Kaloyeros, who has led New York's high-tech effort under three governors. A call to Kaloyeros wasn't returned Friday.

In 2014, Cuomo's office had announced the key firms in the Buffalo Billion project were selected by the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering and the Fort Schuyler Management Corp.

Kaloyeros headed the college, which is now SUNY Polytechnic Institute.

Fort Schuyler is nonprofit organization affiliated with SUNY and SUNY Polytechnic "that facilitates research and economic development opportunities in support of New York's emerging nanotechnology and semiconductor clusters," according to its website.

Its board of directors has seven members, including Kaloyeros, Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito and the senior vice president of the SUNY Polytechnic Institute.

With Yancey Roy

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