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Upstate businessman sentenced in bid-rigging case involving economic development projects

Syracuse businessman Joseph Gerardi was sentenced Thursday in Manhattan federal court to 2-1/2 years in prison for his part in a conspiracy to rig bids on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s upstate economic development projects.

Earlier this week, Buffalo construction executive Lou Ciminelli was sentenced to 28 months in prison for his part in the scheme.

Gerardi, 59, a wealthy lawyer and developer, was also convicted of lying to the FBI, and had been accused of bribing Cuomo aide Joe Percoco.

U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni, occasionally lapsing into the same language she directed at Ciminelli, said prison time was needed because of the damaging effect of political corruption.

“It erodes citizens’ faith that their tax dollars are being spent responsibly,” she said.

Gerardi and partner Steve Aiello were convicted of plotting with Cuomo economic development guru Alain Kaloyeros to steer $105 million in Syracuse-area projects to their company, COR Development, including an LED manufacturing plant and a now-defunct film center.

Todd Howe, a lobbyist and former Cuomo aide who became a government witness, helped set up inside access to bid specifications for both COR and Ciminelli. Gerardi, Aiello, family members and associates allegedly gave $250,000 to Cuomo’s campaign from 2011 to 2013.

Gerardi was also charged along with Aiello in another part of the case – bribing Percoco for help  getting around red tape on state-funded development contracts. He was acquitted in a separate trial, but Caproni said she was taking into account his use of highly placed friends to get special treatment.

Aiello  was scheduled to be sentenced on Friday and Kaloyeros next week. Percoco was sentenced to six years in prison.

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