BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Following an investigation into Governor Andrew Cuomo’s billion-dollar investment, Cuomo himself is saying there may have been improper lobbying and deception, which he said may have “defrauded the state.”
Bharara’s investigation is examining the entire project from top to bottom, including bidders and the process of awarding more than $1 billion in public funds to businesses and contractors to restore a stagnant Buffalo to a
prosperous state. The largest funds were doled out to SolarCity and the Buffalo Medical Innovation Hub, with IBM as the lead company, which is headquartered downtown at Fountain Plaza.
Now Cuomo’s representation is announcing the hiring of Bart Schwartz, a prominent private investigator who formerly worked for Bharara’s office.
“Ensuring the integrity of the contracting process for this program is paramount, so that the Buffalo Billion and Nano program can continue creating new jobs and revitalizing Upstate’s economy,” Alphonso David, Gov. Cuomo’s legal counsel, said on his behalf.
David said Cuomo is concerned over the questions raised into improper lobbying and undisclosed conflicts of interest, saying some individuals may have deceived New York State Employees involved in the massive program.
“We take violations of the public trust seriously and we believe these issues must be resolved by further investigation by the U.S. Attorney,” David said. “In the meantime, and as the program operates on a daily basis, the Governor has ordered an immediate full review of the program.”
The review will scrutinize all past, present and future grants awarded by the program to uncover and prevent wrongdoing.
Schwartz, who will be investigating the claims of wrongdoing on Cuomo’s behalf, said Bharara’s investigation has already revealed important information in his ongoing investigation.
“I will conduct my review commencing immediately and report any information I find to the U.S. Attorney and the administration,” Schwartz said. “The administration has made it clear to me that they have zero tolerance for any violation of the public trust from any actor or entity and I should follow the facts.”
Bharara has yet to comment on Cuomo’s joining of the investigation.
According to in a recent article by the New York Daily News, the Cuomo administration was served a subpoena. Prominent Western New York developer LPCiminelli is also named in the daily news report as part of the focus of the investigation.
Daniel C. Oliverio, attorney for LPCiminelli released the following statement:
“LPCiminelli has cooperated with all facets of the U.S. Attorney’s investigation to date and will continue to do so. Neither the company nor any of its principles has been identified as the subject or target of any investigation and the company has not received any subpoenas since the original inquiry last year. In fact, only media inquiries alerted us to the developments reported today. We would welcome an opportunity to answer questions any investigative body may have.”
News 4 reached out to Sam Hoyt about recent developments, but have yet to hear back. Hoyt is the President of the Regional Empire State Development, and Cuomo’s point man for Buffalo Billion.