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Key Buffalo Billion figure investigated over Albany dormitory project

ALBANY – Officials say SUNY Polytechnic and its leader, Alain Kaloyeros, one of the point people for the Buffalo Billion program, is under investigation by the state attorney general over a contract awarded for a new dormitory building at the public college he runs in Albany.

A person familiar with the investigation, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is looking at possible bid-rigging violations after just one company – Columbia Development – put in a proposal to build the dorm.

The project, which included a signed contract with Columbia, was canceled last fall after SUNY Polytechnic officials said the construction effort was going to be rebid. It appears the scrubbing of the deal came about two months after Schneiderman issued subpoenas to the public college and the developer for information about the contract process.

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Kaloyeros has been a close advisor to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on upstate economic development issues, and Cuomo personally tapped him to handle mega-projects such as the SolarCity plant under construction in South Buffalo. Columbia is a large developer and builder of projects in the Albany area, including a sprawling new building at the SUNY Polytechnic campus on the west side of Albany. Between corporate contributions and those from individuals tied to the company, it has been a reliable donor to Cuomo in recent years.

News from Albany has been anything but about government policy-making these days. Consider: Word of the Schneiderman investigation comes one day after former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was sentenced to 12 years in prison on his corruption conviction, five days after federal prosecutors sent a subpoena to Cuomo’s office over the year-old Buffalo Billion investigation, and eight days before former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos is to be sentenced on his separate corruption conviction.

The source who spoke to The News said the dorm contract award is not the only matter Schneiderman is looking at involving SUNY Polytechnic; the source declined to elaborate. Also, the person said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is aware of Schneiderman’s probe and that the state investigation of the dorm project and Bharara’s expanding Buffalo Billion investigation is “all inter-connected.” In the Buffalo Billion probe that began with an inquiry after the awarding of the RiverBend project that will house a future SolarCity plant, Bharara issued subpoenas to SUNY Polytechnic and Cuomo’s economic development agency, as well as Buffalo firms LPCiminelli and McGuire Development.

In the Albany dorm case, investigators are looking to determine if violations occurred of the 1899 Donnelly Act anti-trust statute.

A spokesman for Schneiderman, Matt Mittenthal, declined comment late Wednesday.

In addition to SUNY Polytechnic, the investigation also includes Fort Schuyler Management Corp. and Fuller Road Management Corp., two private companies the college created to handle development at a number of upstate sites, including RiverBend and other Buffalo-area locations:

SUNY Polytechnic released a written statement from Richard Strassberg, a lawyer at Manhattan-based Goodwin Proctor. “Fuller Road Management Corporation and its affiliates have cooperated fully with this investigation from its start in September 2015. Based on our own investigation, we have seen no evidence of impropriety by anyone at Fuller Road or SUNY Poly,” said Strassberg, who specializes in white-collar defense matters. He has been retained by Fuller Road Management, which handles development of the SUNY Polytechnic campus in Albany, whicht is home to one of the world’s major nanotechnology research and academic centers.

email: tprecious@buffnews.com