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Attorney general conducts raid at SUNY Polytechnic

ALBANY – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has increased his investigation of SUNY Polytechnic Institute, conducting a raid Thursday afternoon at an office once used by a veteran lobbyist who has ties to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, his family and his inner circle, a source close to the investigation said.

Schneiderman last fall issued subpoenas in a bid-rigging investigation of a contract awarded, though never signed, between the SUNY college headed by Alain E. Kaloyeros and a politically connected developer to build a dormitory near the campus.

However, a source earlier this month said Schneiderman’s interest in SUNY Polytechnic has not been limited just to the scuttled dormitory deal.

The raid, executed with a search warrant, included an office formerly used by Todd Howe, a Washington-based lobbyist who worked for Whiteman, Osterman & Hannah, whose clients included Fort Schuyler Management Corp. and Fuller Road Management Corp., two SUNY Polytechnic entities that were created to do high-tech projects across the state, including the Buffalo Billion program.

All of those programs also are being investigated by Manhattan-based U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who over the last couple of months has expanded a probe that first began last year looking into the awarding of a couple of Buffalo Billion projects, including the facility that will house SolarCity at RiverBend.

Howe, who goes back a couple decades with the governor, was recently fired by Whiteman, Osterman & Hannah, one of Albany’s biggest law firms, which also has a lobbying practice. It is uncertain why Howe would have had an office at the campus, and SUNY Polytechnic officials were not answering specific questions.

The raid was confirmed by SUNY Polytechnic officials.

“SUNY Poly cooperated fully today with the NYAG’s office request to search an office previously used by Todd Howe at our Albany campus. We continue to fully cooperate with their investigation,’’ said campus spokesman David Doyle.

The search at the campus, the recipient of billions of dollars in state money since the 1990s, was first reported by Gannett’s Albany bureau.

Schneiderman has been looking into the dormitory construction deal that initially was awarded last fall to Columbia Development, an Albany firm. After Schneiderman issued subpoenas about the selection of Columbia, SUNY Polytechnic canceled the initiative and said it was going to rebid the project.

Columbia acquired an entire block’s worth of houses bordering the Polytechnic campus; the street today is an eerie collection of empty, modest homes in an area several miles west of the State Capitol. Columbia, a sizable campaign contributor to Cuomo, has done other work for SUNY Polytechnic and Kaloyeros has been Cuomo’s point person on the more recent Buffalo Billion projects, including RiverBend.

email: tprecious@buffnews.com