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DiPizio Construction, booted from Canalside rink job, seeks federal probe

A Cheektowaga contractor whose company was booted off the Canalside ice rink project asked a federal prosecutor on Monday to investigate what she called “crooked” and illegal actions by state development officials.

Rosanne DiPizio, an executive with DiPizio Construction and Dreamco Development, asked U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara to examine “New York’s crooked and systematic practice of rewarding high-end donors and friends of the political class.”

DiPizio has filed a lawsuit in state and federal court claiming that state officials acted illegally in 2013 when they terminated DiPizio Construction’s $19.8 million contract to build an ice rink at Canalside on the downtown Buffalo waterfront. She alleges that state officials then convinced a bonding company that took over stewardship of the contract to give the job to a Rochester construction firm that has given tens of thousands in donations to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and other officeholders.

State officials and their attorneys vehemently deny those allegations, countering that DiPizio was removed from the project because its work was inadequate and the job was far behind schedule.

Political donations made by the Rochester firm, the Pike Company, had no influence on any of the decisions that were made, said Sam Hoyt, who was heavily involved with the project as regional director of Empire State Development.

The decision to hire Pike Company was not made by state officials, but by the bonding company, Travelers Casualty and Surety Co., Hoyt said. DiPizio claims that state officials influenced the decision. Travelers officials declined to comment on why they hired Pike.

A detailed account of the dispute was published in The Buffalo News on Sunday.

Bharara’s office in New York City has investigated several cases of political corruption involving state leaders, including one that led to corruption convictions against former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver last November.

Bharara’s office did not return a reporter’s telephone calls about the Canalside probe request on Monday.