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Indictments in Buffalo Billion pay-to-play case pushed back

ALBANY – The anticipated indictments of eight individuals in a corruption case that began with the Buffalo Billion program have been pushed back a month to give defense lawyers and prosecutors additional time for discussions, a federal magistrate judge has ordered.

The case, brought against Joseph Percoco, a longtime insider to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as well as former SUNY Polytechnic Institute head Alain Kaloyeros and Louis Ciminelli and two other executives of Buffalo’s LPCiminelli construction and development company, was given a continuance until Nov. 23.

“It is further found that counsel for the government have been engaged, and continue to be engaged in, discussions concerning possible dispositions in this case with counsel for the defendants,’’ wrote United States Magistrate Judge Kevin Nathaniel Fox in his four-page order released Tuesday by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan.

The magistrate said the defendants’ lawyers all agreed to the delay until Nov. 23 for release of indictments.

"It is further found that the granting of such a continuance best serves the ends of justice and outweighs the best interests of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial,’’ Fox wrote in his order.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has, among his allegations, said the case involves a bid rigging scheme involving the Buffalo Billion program and the state's bid contact to LPCiminelli. Two other major projects by developers in the Syracuse and Albany areas also are part of the federal government’s case.

A ninth person targeted in the matter – Washington lobbyist Todd Howe – pleaded guilty last month to eight felony counts and has been cooperating with prosecutors since last June.

Lawyers for two of the defendants were adamant that there are no plea bargain discussions underway with their clients.

"Any suggestion that Mr. Percoco is negotiating a possible plea deal is unfounded,'' said Barry Bohrer in an email response about Percoco, who has served as part of the inner circle for Cuomo, or the late Gov. Mario Cuomo, since the early 1990s.

Michael Miller, a lawyer representing Kaloyeros, said Tuesday evening: "Dr. Kaloyeros is not involved in any plea discussions whatsoever with the government.''

email: tprecious@buffnews.com

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