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These local notables could be called as witnesses in Buffalo Billion trial

ALBANY – From the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s musical director to a member of the Buffalo School Board, a who’s who of prominent names from around New York and the Buffalo area surfaced as potential witnesses in the upcoming Buffalo Billion corruption trial.

Uncertain is whether any of them in the end will be called as witnesses, or even mentioned, in what will be a closely watched pay-to-play trial that will unfold next month in a lower Manhattan federal courtroom.

U.S. District Court Judge Valerie Caproni on Tuesday released a 22-page list of questions that the court will use to query people called for possible jury service during the trial that – with five defendants – could take a month or more to complete. The trial will examine key upstate economic development programs run by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration, including the Buffalo Billion effort, and allegations that individuals rigged the bidding process to favor politically connected developers in Buffalo and Syracuse.

Some of the people on the list were also on a similar jury questionnaire during the corruption trial earlier this year that led to the bribery conviction of Joseph Percoco, a longtime, close associate of Cuomo.

In question number 25, jurors will be asked: “Have you or has any member of your family or a close friend every had any dealings with any of the following individuals or entities?”

What follows are four-and-a-half pages of names, including:

  • Peter Cutler, a former aide to Cuomo and Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown and now an executive with Erie County Medical Center. Like other current and former officials in Cuomo’s office, Cutler’s name was mentioned during parts of the Percoco trial.
  • Larry Quinn, a Buffalo School Board member and ex-Buffalo Sabres president. He declined comment.
  • JoAnn Falletta, musical director at the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. An orchestra spokeswoman declined comment other than noting that Louis Ciminelli, one of the Buffalo Billion defendants, is a former chairman of the group’s board.

Bribery charge against Ciminelli, Laipple to be dropped in Buffalo Billion case

Others on the jury questionnaire list include Peter Cammarata and David Stebbins, who are city economic development officials; Christina Orsi, a former director of Cuomo’s economic development office in Buffalo who is now at the University at Buffalo; and Frank Ciminelli II, son of Louis Ciminelli and founder and CEO of Arc Building Partners.

The list also includes a “Jack Quinn,’’ offering no other identifying information. Jack Quinn Jr., the former congressman from Western New York, said he was never interviewed by federal investigators and was asked to be a character witness for Ciminelli but turned down the offer. His son, Jack Quinn III, a former assemblyman, said he had no role in any part of the investigation.

It is unclear if some people could be called as witnesses for the prosecution or for the five different defendants in the case.

Also on the list:

  • Howard Glaser, a former top Cuomo administration official who now works for an Albany lobbying firm, as well as Tom Young, the former mayor of Syracuse and Bob Brady, former CEO of Moog.
  • Matt Enstice, CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and Andrew Shaevel, an Amherst developer who is managing partner of Mensch Capital Partners, along with Chris Beitel, who was executive vice president of global operations and planning at Silevo Inc., the predecessor to SolarCity at the RiverBend facility.
  • Peter Cammarata, president of the Buffalo Urban Development Corp., and Carl Montante and Michael Montante, executives at Uniland Development Corp., and developer John Timothy Vaeth. David Zebro, executive chairman and principal of Strategic Investments & Holdings Inc., and a vice chairman of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, is also on the jury questionnaire list.

Jurors will be asked if they have had any dealings with Williamsville Acquest Development, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Buffalo Urban Development Corp., Krog Group, McGuire Development Co., Silveo, SolarCity, Tesla, TM Montante Development, Uniland Development Co., RiverBend and a number of other private and government entities.

News reporters Jonathan Epstein and Bob McCarthy contributed to this article.

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