U.S. Supreme Court clears Cor executives of wrongdoing on state projects

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May 23—WATERTOWN — The U.S. Supreme Court has exonerated two Cor Development Co. executives of wrongdoing in connection with state-led developments in Syracuse and Buffalo.

In a one-sentence ruling issued Monday, the nation's top court vacated the convictions of Steven F. Aiello, former president of Cor Development, and Joseph B. Gerardi, the company's former general counsel, who had been accused of bribing a top aide to former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in an attempt to win state development contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The court offered no additional reasoning for overturning the convictions beyond indicating that the ruling was consistent with its finding two weeks ago that defendants in two related cases, Joseph Percoco and Louis Ciminelli, would also have their convictions vacated.

The Cor pair had been accused of paying Mr. Percoco $35,000 through a lobbyist, Todd R. Howe, to ensure that the company would not be subject to a labor peace agreement in connection with a proposed development in Syracuse and that they conspired with Mr. Ciminelli and Alain Kaloyeros, president of SUNY Polytechnic Institute, to rig bids for nanotech projects so that Cor would become the preferred developer. The projects were part of Gov. Cuomo's Buffalo Billions initiative.

When the convictions against Mr. Percoco and Mr. Ciminelli were reversed May 11, it seemed a foregone conclusion that the Supreme Court would rule similarly in the cases against Mr. Aiello and Mr. Gerardi, as well as for Mr. Kaloyeras, who also won his appeal Monday.

Cor developed Town Centre at Watertown on Route 3 and Beaver Meadows, a 296-unit apartment complex behind the shopping center. It also owns the former Mercy Hospital site in downtown Watertown, although plans to develop residential and commercial units there have never materialized. There were no allegations of wrongdoing against Mr. Aiello or Mr. Gerardi relative to Cor's developments in Watertown.

Mr. Aiello, 65, and Mr. Gerardi, 63, had been facing federal prison sentences of three years and 2 1/2 years, respectively, but have been free pending their appeals after serving a brief period in prison last year.