State again late on RiverBend payments

State Again Late On Payments At Riverbend

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- It doesn't appear there are any layoffs this time, but New York State is again late on payments to subcontractors at the RiverBend site in South Buffalo.

The last payment of $29.9 million was paid from Empire State Development to the lead developer LP Ciminelli back in September. It was for work completed in June.

Local subcontractors have not received payments for invoices submitted for July, August, September or October.

Sources tell 2 On Your Side that once an invoice is submitted, the state should have it paid within 30 days.

Howard Zemsky, President and CEO of Empire State Development, blamed the latest delay on the ongoing criminal investigation into possible bid-rigging at the RiverBend site.

Earlier this year, executives at LP Ciminelli -- including Chairman and CEO Louis Ciminelli -- were charged by the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan as part of a statewide investigation. Alain Kaloyeros, the former president of SUNY Polytechnic and the architect of the RiverBend project, was also charged. All the suspects were indicted by a federal grand jury earlier this week.

"Everyone will get paid for their work but in light of the investigations/indictments the payment process has extra layers of review and takes additional time," Zemsky said in a statement to 2 On Your Side.

Earlier this month, when 2 On Your Side started asking questions about late payments, a spokesperson for Empire State Development said in a statement, "Payments for work completed at RiverBend continue to be current..."

We now know many millions of dollars are owed to the subcontractors.

Wednesday, 2 On Your Side received an anonymous letter from someone claiming to be an executive with one of those companies.

"I, as well as many of my peers, would love to share all the intimate details with you but for fear of retribution from (LP) Ciminelli and or New York State, it cannot be done," the letter read.

In February, 2 On Your Side broke the story that layoffs were "imminent" at the RiverBend site due to tens of millions in late payments. Subcontractors could no longer afford to pay employees as a result. More than 200 workers ended up getting temporarily laid off. New York State finally made good on its debt in early March.

Later that month, Governor Andrew Cuomo promised the state would make the payments on time in the future.

"It's been corrected," Cuomo said. "And it won't happen again."

Zemsky, who took the lead on all Buffalo Billion projects following the charges against Kaloyeros, could not say when the late payments will be made, but he pointed out 

"We are proud that New York State is investing unprecedented amounts into Buffalo and Western New York," Zemsky said. "This is of obvious benefit to contractors and the building trades."


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