MANHATTAN, N.Y. — The U.S. District Attorney's Office notified the court in a letter late last week it would not move forward with charges that developers Louis Ciminelli, Michael Laipple, Steven Aiello and Joseph Girardi paid bribes and gratuities in order to help secure bids for state contracts.
The accusation they were involved in rigging those bids remains though, in the form of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud charges
Laipple and Ciminelli are former executives for LPCiminelli, which was awarded state contracts for among other things, the Buffalo Billion Tesla GigaFactory project.
Aiello and Girardi were executives for Syracuse-based CoR development and face similar accusations.
The government Tuesday confirmed Todd Howe, who supposedly coordinated the alleged bribes, will not take the stand. He was a key witness in the separate but related corruption conviction of former Cuomo administration Joe Percoco, but was actually arrested after admitting to violating his cooperation deal.
"I'm awfully confident of this. The prosecutors made a decision that Todd Howe was not a credible witness after the first trial and as you know he basically admitted on the stand that he had committed crimes after signing his cooperation agreement so they walked away from him," Ciminelli attorney Paul Shechtman said.
Earlier this month, a third LPCiminelli executive, Kevin Schuler, took a deal with the prosecution, pleading guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy while the government said it did not have sufficient evidence to move forward with bribery charges.
Ciminelli's attorney said with Howe out, Schuler will be the government's primary witness, but he also believes it was Schuler who convinced the prosecution there wasn't evidence of bribes.
Schectman said tomorrow jurors will begin filling out questionnaires which ask about a broad swath of possible witnesses, including current and former state government employees and some high-profile members of the Western New York community.
Louis Ciminelli and Michael Laipple are accused of participating in a bid-rigging scheme involving major New York State projects, including the Tesla Gigafactory at Riverbend.