ALBANY — The state attorney general is reviewing possible bid rigging of a dormitory project as part of a look at contracting issues regarding SUNY Polytechnic Institute, a person familiar with the investigation said Wednesday.
The probe focuses on the college, which spun off from the State University of New York at Albany in 2014 to focus on nanoscale science and engineering, among other disciplines. SUNY Polytechnic is headed by Alain Kaloyeros, a key supporter of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s high-tech economic development initiatives around the state over the last few years. Kaloyeros also heads Fuller Road Management Corp., the nonprofit real estate arm of SUNY Polytechnic.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s investigation is focused, in part, on the possible improper “coordination” of the bidding process for a proposed 500-student dorm, the source said.
That process resulted in just one company, Columbia Development of Albany — whose owners and subsidiaries have contributed more than $100,000 Cuomo’s campaign committees — submitting a bid.
Last fall, SUNY Polytechnic pulled the bid after local media outlets reported not only that Columbia was the lone bidder, but also that a Columbia subsidiary had bought out homeowners nearby before the project was put to bid. Columbia at the time told the Albany Times Union the dorm project and the land purchases were unrelated.
The investigation deals with the “bidding and solicitations related” to the proposed dorms, the source said. The Wall Street Journal first reported the probe.
Matt Mittenthal, a Schneiderman spokesman, said: “We cannot comment on an ongoing investigation.”
The attorney for Kaloyeros and SUNY Polytechnic, Richard Strassberg, sent out a statement Wednesday saying: “Fuller Road Management Corporation and its affiliates have cooperated fully with this investigation from its start in September 2015. Based on our own investigation we have seen no evidence of impropriety by anyone at Fuller Road or SUNY Poly.”
In a statement, Columbia said: “We were pleased to provide the AG’s office with the information they requested and are confident that their thorough review will show nothing improper.” Columbia Development CEO Joseph Nicolla has contributed at least $96,000 to Cuomo since 2009 through his home address and subsidiaries, state Board of Elections records show.
Jessica Winningham, who has the same address as Nicolla, gave $50,000 to Cuomo, according to the State Board of Elections records.
Acknowledgment of the investigation comes just days after federal prosecutors subpoenaed Cuomo’s “executive chamber” — the official name of his office — regarding projects involved in the “Buffalo Billion” economic initiative and a proposed power plant in the Hudson Valley.
Federal and state investigators last fall subpoenaed SUNY Polytechnic and Empire State Development Corp., New York’s economic development. An ESDC memo subsequently made public said the investigation was “criminal in nature.”
With Michael Gormley