PROSECUTORS’ STAR WITNESS TAKES THE STAND IN BUFFALO BILLION CORRUPTION TRIAL

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Former LPCiminelli executive Kevin Schuler, whom prosecutors have named their “star witness,” took the stand in the corruption trial of former SUNY Polytechnic President Alain Kaloyeros.

Schuler testified that LPCiminelli was “in the driver’s seat” when it came to a bid for the state’s Buffalo Billion construction project, as Kaloyeros agreed to “fine-tune” the offer to fit the firm’s qualifications.

Schuler admitted to maintaining indirect contact with Kaloyeros – through ex-lobbyist Todd Howe – throughout the so-called “blackout period,” during which correspondence between bidders and the letting agency is illegal.

One provision required potential bidders to have at least 50 years’ worth of Buffalo-area construction experience, unusually high for this sort of project.

On the stand, Schuler held up a two-year old t-shirt celebrating Buffalo-based LPCiminelli’s 50th anniversary, testifying “I think someone put [the provision] in to help us… I’d never seen a requirement like that.”

Officials later changed the provision to 15-years of experience, apologizing for the 50-year requirement, which had supposedly been a typo.

On November 6, 2013, Schuler wrote to Howe expressing concern that the M&W Group, a long-time contractor for Kaloyeros, was pushing to get the $750 million factory bid.

Four minutes later, Kaloyeros sent an email to an M&W executive stating that neither M&W nor any other firm would be singled out for selection through a “pre-cooked process.”

Schuler, who pleaded guilty for his role in the bid-rigging scheme earlier this spring, questioned Kaloyeros’ note on the witness stand, testifying that LPCiminelli “was being singled out favorably, so it isn’t true.”