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Prosecutors: Emails show ex-SUNY official steered contracts

Former SUNY official Alain Kaloyeros arrives at a

Former SUNY official Alain Kaloyeros arrives at a federal courthouse in Manhattan on Tuesday for his trial. Credit: Charles Eckert

Alain Kaloyeros, the former SUNY official charged with rigging bids on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature upstate development projects, asked an aide to use his private e-mail account to supply information on favored developers, according to testimony in Manhattan federal court Tuesday.

Prosecutors introduced emails from lobbyist and former Cuomo aide Todd Howe, who Kaloyeros had hired as an advisor, offering qualifications of developers Louis P. Ciminelli of Buffalo and Syracuse’s COR Development months before the “Buffalo Billions” projects went out to bid.

“I have vitals for buffalo and Syracuse friends,” wrote Howe, whose law firm was getting paid $25,000 a month as a liaison between Kaloyeros and Cuomo’s office, to Kaloyeros’ SUNY work email address.

Prosecutors say the “vitals” were information that could be used to tailor bid specifications. “Please gmail no email,” responded Kaloyeros, from his gmail personal account.

The government has accused Kaloyeros, 62, of Slingerlands, of conspiring with major Cuomo campaign donors Ciminelli and Steven Aiello and Joseph Gerardi of COR, all clients of Howe, to tailor bids and steer nearly $1 billion in projects in Buffalo and Syracuse to them.

Kaloyeros, a Lebanese-born physicist and nanotechnology expert, is credited with sparking a high-tech boom in Albany and creating SUNY Polytechnic Institute as a new campus in the state university system. After he hired Howe, Cuomo assigned Kaloyeros to try to repeat the success elsewhere upstate.

Howe, a cooperating federal witness, was jailed after his credibility came under fire at the recent trial of former Cuomo deputy Joe Percoco. Instead of calling him to testify again, prosecutors in the Kaloyeros case are relying heavily on emails.

With more than 50 on tap for Wednesday, the Howe-Kaloyeros exchange was one of only a few introduced Tuesday – all from months before requests for proposals were issued in October, 2013, by Fort Schuyler Management Corp., the SUNY affiliate Kaloyeros used for development.

As early as July 13, apparently after a meeting with Aiello, Kaloyeros wrote him, “I’m looking forward to our partnership to help advance Gov. Cuomo’s innovation-driven economic prosperity.”

And in August, when Syracuse’s COR sent a list of qualifications to Howe, he promised to “hand deliver to Dr. K” and cautioned, “You guys should not email this to anyone but me.”

Prosecutors contend Ciminelli and COR were favored by Kaloyeros because they were major Cuomo donors, but Cuomo has not been accused of wrongdoing. In addition to more emails, prosecutors said on Wednesday they may also call their long remaining cooperating witness, Ciminelli aide Kevin Schuler, to testify.

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