ALBANY – Alain Kaloyeros appeared Thursday morning in Albany City Court and pleaded not guilty to three counts of public corruption brought by State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Kaloyeros, president of SUNY Polytechnic Institute and close ally to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, denied involvement in a bid-rigging scheme for state contracts worth $3 million.
A day earlier, he was charged separately on one count of federal corruption, including bid-rigging for the development of SolarCity’s RiverBend facility in Buffalo.
Kaloyeros, sometimes called the "Nano Czar," was released on his own recognizance. His defense attorney offered no comment before or after the arraignment Friday.
Schneiderman accused Kaloyeros of improperly using the state bidding process to award contracts from SUNY Poly to companies of his choice.
“This scheme is unusual in its brazenness,” Schneiderman said. “This is remarkable. It’s an explicit agreement for a kickback.”
In one instance, Kaloyeros is accused of giving advance notice to Columbia Development to prepare for a bidding process on student housing for SUNY Polytechnic Institute. The president of that company, Joseph Nicolla, faces his own charge from Schneiderman’s office on the corruption probe. His arraignment is scheduled for Monday.
Kaloyeros is also accused of rigging the bidding process on the college’s NanoFab West research building. The chosen contractor is accused of offering a $50 million loan to a nonprofit with connections to SUNY Polytechnic Institute and a $3 million research grant to the college. Schneiderman’s office says incoming grant money was directly tied to Kaloyeros’ salary.
In a third instance, Kaloyeros is accused of allowing an architectural firm to lease space at the college in exchange for work on future SUNY Poly projects.
If convicted, Kaloyeros faces 4 to 12 years in prison.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara separately accuses Kaloyeros with one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud. In a complaint unsealed Thursday, Bharara said Kaloyeros retained political consultant Todd Howe to rig the bidding process for two developers in Buffalo and Syracuse.
Kaloyeros is credited for beginning the state’s major investment in nanotechnology since the early 1990s, which has spread to cities like Utica and Syracuse in recent years. He has been at the head of the nanotechnology program in Albany since its inception. SUNY announced Thursday that it has suspended him without pay.
“SUNY will review the charges against Dr. Kaloyeros and cooperate fully with prosecutors on any further action as state and federal investigations continue,” SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher and Chairman Carl McCall said in a joint statement.
“SUNY has rightly relieved Alain Kaloyeros from his duties and has suspended him without pay, effective immediately,” Cuomo said in a statement yesterday.
No future court date was set for Kaloyeros.
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