Key witness in ‘Billion case avoids prison

Kevin Schuler, the prosecution’s star witness in the Buffalo Billion corruption trial, escaped a prison term at his sentencing in Manhattan on Friday.

Schuler was an executive at LPCiminelli who detailed the bid rigging scheme that resulted in the company landing the contract to build the SolarCity plant in South Buffalo.

His testimony was key to convicting his former boss, Louis Ciminelli, and a top state economic development official, Alain Kaloyeros, on corruption charges. Both were sentenced to prison, although they remain free pending appeals.

Schuler is required to perform 400 hours of community service over the next two years, speaking to students and business groups about the dangers of corruption. He was facing up to 40 years in prison after he pleaded guilty in last spring on wire fraud charges.

Schuler’s attorney, Terrance Connors, said his client’s cooperation with prosecutors, was recognized by the sentencing judge.

“We’re grateful Judge Caproni recognized Kevin was honest and forthright with the government and that his background made it more appropriate for him to speak to college and law students than to spend a pointless time period in prison,” Connors said.

The U.S. Attorney’s office launched a probe after Investigative Post reported in December 2014 that the project’s original request for proposals effectively limited the field of eligible respondents to only LP Ciminelli. Subsequent coverage (here and here) detailed other irregularities with the contract.