BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The United States Supreme Court has reversed the convictions of Western New York developer Louis Ciminelli and former Andrew Cuomo associate Joseph Percoco.

In 2018, Ciminelli was convicted of wire fraud and conspiring to commit wire fraud regarding bidding for the RiverBend project in Buffalo, which includes the Tesla GigaFactory on South Park Avenue.

Sentenced to 28 months in federal prison, Ciminelli started serving his sentence in 2022, but he, along with three others, were later ordered to be released, per a decision by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

According to the District Court, the men were found to be “neither a flight risk nor a safety concern.” Read the order, in its entirety, here.

Ciminelli’s release from a facility in Arizona came this past July and the decision to reverse his conviction was announced Thursday morning.

“Under the right-to-control theory, a defendant is guilty of wire fraud if he schemes to deprive the victim of ‘potentially valuable economic information’ ‘necessary to make discretionary
economic decisions,” the Supreme Court decision read. “Petitioner Louis Ciminelli was charged with, tried for, and convicted of wire fraud under this theory. And the Second Circuit affirmed his convictions on that same basis. We have held, however, that the federal fraud statutes criminalize only schemes to deprive people of traditional property interests. Because ‘potentially valuable economic information’ ‘necessary to make discretionary economic decisions’ is not a traditional property interest, we now hold that the right-to-control theory is not a valid basis for liability under §1343. Accordingly, we reverse the Second Circuit’s judgment.”

The case has been remanded to a United States District Court. News 4 spoke with attorney Barry Covert, who provided clarity on the matter.

“Presumably, the case is just going to get dismissed unless the government thinks that they can come up with some other theory of prosecution,” Covert said. “The defense is certainly going to take the position of ‘it’s too late,’ double jeopardy, statute of limitations has passed, and make any arguments if the government tries to revive the prosecution.”

Covert is of the opinion that the case is going to be dismissed.

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award, JANY Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.