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Cuomo: 'I don't know what I could have done differently' to prevent Buffalo Billion scandal

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says as the head of state government, he bears some responsibility for the latest corruption scandal. "I don’t know what I could have done differently to prevent the situation," Cuomo told reporters in Brooklyn Friday.

But Cuomo is also trying to distance himself from former SUNY official Alain Kaloyeros, the mastermind of the governor's upstate economic development programs who was found guilty Thursday of bid-rigging, along with Buffalo developer Louis Ciminelli and two Syracuse developers.

Cuomo says his administration is doing everything possible to prevent corruption.

"We have more protections in place than any administration in history, more checks and balances," Cuomo said.

The governor's opponents say the Kaloyeros conviction is the latest example of corruption flourishing in Albany under Cuomo’s leadership.

Jim Heaney, founder of Investigative Post, says prosecutors should look further to determine how much Governor Cuomo may have known, and when he may have known it.

"I think this trial raises serious questions that potentially implicate the governor's office," Heaney told WBFO. "The news converage has repeated over and over again that the governor has been accused of no wrongdoing. The governor, to this point, and his people have not been the focus of prosecution."

This spring, Cuomo's right-hand man, Joe Percoco, and the former Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, were also convicted of using their offices for personal gain and a verdict is expected soon in the trial of former Senate majority leader Dean Skelos.

Reaction in Buffalo continued Friday as State Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes shared her thoughts with WBFO. 

"The jury has spoken. In this society that we live in, you have to honor the verdict that the jury makes, whether you agree or disagree," she said. "I'll say this, there are rules that everyone has to follow. If you're not willing to follow those rules, then you have to be willing to take what you get as a result."

She expressed disappointment in the conviction of Ciminelli, saying he has done numerous good things for the local community.

"He'll have to deal with what he's been handed because he did decide to play in that game," she said.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.