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Cuomo says he'll "throw the book" at wrongdoers in Buffalo Billion probe

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Governor Andrew Cuomo, while appearing in Western New York, faced questions regarding the ongoing federal investigation into alleged improper activities related to Buffalo Billion projects. Cuomo, whose office announced its own internal probe into the economic development initiative, says anyone caught breaking the law will be dealt with swiftly and thoroughly.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's ongoing investigation into Albany corruption shifted its attention toward the Buffalo Billion and focused on two people with close ties to Cuomo: former longtime aide Joseph Percoco and lobbyist Todd Howe. The federal investigator is exploring whether there is any conflicts of interest or inappropriate lobbying by the pair.

More recently, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office conducted a raid of SUNY Polytechnic offices in Albany, which worked with third parties to arrange many of the contracts for Buffalo Billion projects.

The Cuomo Administration, in late April, announced it was appointing an independent investigator to launch an internal probe. Speaking to reporters in Springville on Thursday, Cuomo suggested he can never guarantee the public that wrongdoing will be entirely averted.

"The question is not 'can you stop every bad act.' It's when you have a bad act that may have occurred, how do you handle it?" Cuomo said.  

The governor says his office is taking aggressive steps to address any possible problems and he vowed he would "throw the book" at anyone caught committing illegal acts.

When asked about the federal probe, Cuomo noted that the number of subpoenas issued in recent weeks does not mean that all served are suspected of criminal activity.

"Just because someone is asked questions, doesn't mean they are the subject of an investigation," said the governor, who is also a former attorney general. "You talk to hundreds of people when you're looking into something, because you want to find out the facts."

Following his comments on the ongoing investigation, Cuomo told reporters that ethics reform is among the bills he wants passed and on his desk to sign before State Legislators adjourn later this month.

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.
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