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Why RiverBend required a company with 50 years experience -- and then retracted it

Federal prosecutors say that Alain Kaloyeros and LPCiminelli officials worked behind the scenes to ensure that the RiverBend request for proposals was tailored specifically for LPCiminelli, to the exclusion of any other company.

In a criminal complaint unveiled Thursday morning, nine people stand accused in a sweeping corruption case that accuses the major Buffalo Billion economic development contract being tainted by allegations of bid-rigging and bribes. Among the nine are LPCiminelli executives Louis P. Ciminelli, Kevin Schuler and Michael Laipple.

According to the federal prosecutors' 79-page complaint:

  • "The Buffalo RFP was designed so that the board of directors of Fort Schuyler would have no choice but to name (LPCiminelli) the preferred developer for Buffalo," prosecutors wrote.
  • On Aug. 21, 2013, lobbyist Todd R. Howe emailed Kaloyeros with the subject line "FW:RFQ." Howe told him, "Attached are the vitals for buffalo. They expressed the 'broader descriptions below help, versus narrower."
    Below that section, prosecutors wrote, "was a section that Howe has explained came from (LPCiminelli) and that began 'Todd -- Our thoughts for the RFQ: RFQ Requirement -- Selecting based on qualifications not price is important.' Below that text were seven bullet points that were sent to Laipple, the defendant, to be used to draft the Buffalo RFP."
  • On Aug. 23, Laipple emailed Howe: "One last thought on the RFQ. If the RFQ included something about MWBE promotion and compliance, that would be helpful."
    Howe later told prosecutors that LPCiminelli executives thought they were more competitive in the area of minority and women business enterprises.
    Later on Aug. 23, Howe forwarded Kaloyeros the email from Laipple, saying, "Additional vital for buffalo, stronger on the mwbe than usual would help."
  • About a week later, Kaloyeros responded to Howe by email, saying: "These are not unique to (LPCiminelli) ... we need more definite specs, like minimum X years in Y, Z number of projects in high tech, etc, etc."
    "Howe has explained that it was his understanding," prosecutors wrote, "based on his course of dealing with Kaloyeros that when Kaloyeros referred to a 'minimum X years in Y,' he was asking for information about the number of years that (LPCiminelli) had worked in a particular area, so that (LPCiminelli) could be more specifically tailored (LPCiminelli's) qualifications."
  •  On Sept. 6, 2013, the deputy state operations director send a PowerPoint regarding RiverBend to Howe and Kaloyeros that included details on RiverBend. Howe forwarded the email to Laipple at LPCiminelli, writing: "Michael. FYI, confidential." Laipple forwarded it to Schuler.
  • On Sept. 9, Kaloyeros emailed Ciminelli with a draft of certain sections of the RFP. Under "Developer Requirements," the draft indicated, "Over 15 years proven experience." Ciminelli forwarded it to Schuler and Laipple.
  • A few days later, Schuler emailed Kaloyeros, saying, in part: "I am sending along three attachments that I hope will meet your request for information." Attached to the email was a two-page company profile indicating that LPCiminelli had "over 50 years of experience."
  • When the RiverBend RFP was publicly issued in October 2013, it included a requirement that the developer achieve at least 23 percent participation from women and minority-owned business enterprises. It also indicated that it was seeking "a local developer in the Greater Buffalo Area," with "over 50 years of proven experience."
  • On Nov. 1, 2013, the director of procurement for the SUNY Research Foundation sent an email to developer who had expressed interest in RiverBend, saying there had been a typo in the RFP, and that developers needed to have only 15 years of experience, not 50.
    "I believe that the original '50 years' requirement was not, in fact, a 'typographical error,'" a federal prosecutor wrote.
  • An LPCiminelli executive forwarded that email to Ciminelli and Schuler, with the message, "Grrrrr."
    Schuler replied: "50 was a bit obnoxious."


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