Bribery charges against developers in Buffalo Billion case dropped

May 29, 2018

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have dropped a major bribery charge against two former top executives of developer LP Ciminelli in a corruption case tied to Buffalo Billion funding.

Bribery charges against developer Louis Ciminelli and Michael Laipple, seen here, have been dropped.
Credit File photo

One remaining charge of wire fraud remains in the case, with the trial slated to start June 11.

The case revolves around allegations of a pay-to-play scheme involving construction of the Tesla solar plant in South Buffalo, with construction costs around $750 million.

The bribery charge against developer Louis Ciminelli and one of his top lieutenants, Michael Laipple, was dropped, although the wire fraud charge remains. Recently, a third Ciminelli executive, Kevin Schuler, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

"It's unusual that right before a trial, a major portion of the case, half the case gets dismissed and gets dismissed, most importantly, because the prosecutors conclude that they cannot proves the charge," said Paul Shechtman, the lawyer for Louis Ciminelli.

Ciminelli and Laipple will go to trial with some Syracuse developers and Alain Kaloyeros, former head of SUNY Polytechnic Institute, who was in charge of the Tesla project.