ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he is not surprised that illegal acts occur in a massive state bureaucracy, but he said the “good news” is that developers involved in allegations of pay-to-play schemes completed their upstate projects, including portions of the Buffalo Billion.
“I’m not shocked at the fraud … People lie. People are greedy,’’ Cuomo said in Manhattan Wednesday.
The governor sought to downplay the role of his administration in the contracting process now targeted by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
Nine individuals have been caught up in the scandal, including Joseph Percoco, a longtime friend and former top advisor to Cuomo, along with three executives of LPCiminelli, the Western New York contractor tapped as the general contractor for the Buffalo Billion program, including SolarCity’s RiverBend project.
Cuomo put the responsibility squarely on the state university procurement process, saying the Buffalo Billion and a central New York contract given a Syracuse developer was run through the SUNY contracting system, and led by SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Albany.
“This happened through the State University of New York,’’ Cuomo said.
He said that while he selects SUNY board members, the university system is “not in my office quote unquote.’’
Cuomo said people can disagree with his political philosophy he has brought to the state.
“But the integrity of the administration is without question,’’ he said.
The former head of SUNY Polytechnic, Alain Kaloyeros, was charged last week in the corruption case by both federal and state prosecutors.
An item was posted to Kaloyeros’ Facebook account Wednesday that said: “Never kick me when I’m down, because when I get back up … you’re (expletive).’’
The post was taken down Wednesday afternoon.
Cuomo said the state will consider clawing back proceeds paid to the developers.
“If the state was ripped off, if the state is owed money and the U.S. Attorney proves that, we’ll do everything we can to get the money back,’’ he said.
But Cuomo told reporters at both events Wednesday that the upstate projects part of Bharara’s probe were completed on time.
“The good news is the buildings are built,’’ he said, noting that the developers “accomplished what we wanted to accomplish.’’