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NewsRegion/State

Charges against Michael Laipple dismissed in Albany corruption case

Manhattan federal prosecutors late Friday dismissed charges against one of the five remaining defendants in the upcoming Albany corruption trial of former SUNY official Alain Kaloyeros for an alleged bid rigging scheme,

The government said in a 5 p.m. filing that it was dropping the case against Michael Laipple, an executive at Buffalo’s L.P. Ciminelli construction company, which allegedly got a lead role in the state’s so-called Buffalo Billions development project after giving generously to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s campaign.

Laipple has been charged since September 2016 with wire fraud, conspiracy and bribery along with former company head Louis Ciminelli, who still faces charges, and Kevin Schuler, an executive who pleaded guilty to wire fraud last month and agree to testify for the government.

Prosecutors cited unspecified new information they have received since September 2017. “Based on its review of the evidence in the case . . . the government has concluded that further prosecution of Michael Laipple, the defendant, would not be in the interests of justice,” they said.

A lawyer for Laipple could not be reached for comment.

In addition to dismissing Laipple’s charges and striking a deal with Schuler, prosecutors also announced they won’t call expected star witness Todd Howe, the ex-lobbyist who claimed he was an insider in the bid-rigging scheme. Howe’s credibility was attacked at the trial of Cuomo aide Joseph Percoco earlier this year.

The trial is scheduled for June 11. In addition to Kaloyeros and Ciminelli, Syracuse developers Steven Aiello and Joseph Gerardi remain as defendants.

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