Former Ciminelli exec takes plea in Buffalo Billion case
Kevin Schuler, a former LP Ciminelli Corp. executive will not go on trial and has agreed to provide evidence to prosecutors in the ongoing Buffalo Billion trial that alleges bid specifications were tailored to allow Ciminelli to build the massive state-owned Solar City/Tesla factory on South Park Avenue.
In the Southern District of New York federal court late Friday, Schuler pleaded guilty before Judge Valerie Caproni to two counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
He faces 40 years in jail. He had previously pleaded not guilty and his trial was set to start next month.
The original 14-count indictment alleges bid-rigging and bribery and charged Louis Ciminelli, the chairman and CEO of LPCiminelli Development, Michael Laipple, a former LPCiminelli’s Division president and Schuler, a former vice president with the company, with multiple counts of wire fraud and bribery.
Schuler's plea deal specifies that he "shall truthfully and completely disclose all information with respect to himself and others concerning all matters about which this office inquires of him"
Ciminelli, a high-profile developer and political power player in Western New York, along with Laipple, and Schuler, were accused of paying an Albany lobbyist $100,000 to rig the bidding process for the $750 million Solar City complex construction project, a part of the Buffalo Billion program.
Schuler originally pleaded not guilty to the charges in December of 2017.
While not named as a conspirator, the federal indictment alleges a web of people and businesses tied to Gov. Andrew Cuomo poised to profit from the Buffalo Billion, Cuomo's signature effort to boost economic development in Western New York.