BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The three Buffalo executives accused of scheming to rig bids in the Buffalo Billion revitalization plan will have to wait for their day in court, after a federal magistrate postponed a pre-trial hearing in Buffalo, and sent the case to New York City.
The three LPCiminelli executives, starting at the top with CEO Louis Ciminelli, are named in a 12 count criminal complaint that cuts at the very heart of the Buffalo Billion.. with prosecutors accusing the three of scheming to eliminate the competition for building the SolarCity plant at RiverBend.
Ciminelli, Michael Laipple, and Kevin Schuler are charged with wire fraud conspiracy and bribery. The charges were filed last week in New York City, at U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
In their initial appearance in federal court in Buffalo, last Thursday, the defense attorneys for the three men were granted a preliminary hearing for Monday morning—a kind of mini-trial to determine if there is sufficient evidence against the defendants to continue the case, or dismiss the charges.
Ciminelli’s defense attorney Daniel Oliverio was adamant about the government’s case, “I can say this unequivocally, there was no bribery here, there was no crime committed. This is a total rush to judgment, and I wish that everyone would withhold their judgment until we are done in this case.”
The three Ciminelli executives want to avoid being tried hundreds of miles away from home, but Schuler’s attorney Terrence Connors conceded some travel would be necessary.
“Initially we do have to go down to the Southern District of New York, but there are questions of venue, and venue is where it should be tried, and I am sure that will be an issued that will be looked at in the pre-trial phase.”
Early Monday morning, just before the preliminary hearing was set to begin, the attorneys were notified, U.S. Magistrate Michael Roemer referred the case to the federal court in Manhattan, and ordered the three Buffalo defendants to report there by October 6.
The defense attorneys have said they are still going to try to keep their proceedings here in Buffalo.