NY authorities raid office of lobbyist tied to Cuomo, SUNY

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The New York attorney general's office on Thursday raided an office on SUNY Polytechnic Institute's Albany campus formerly used by Todd Howe, a lobbyist with deep connections to Gov. Andrew Cuomo who also is under scrutiny by federal authorities.

A spokesman for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman wouldn't say what investigators were looking for in their search of Howe's former office. The raid comes as Howe and another former top Cuomo aide are being investigated by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara for possible conflicts of interest and improper bidding related to Cuomo's Buffalo Billion economic development initiative.

"SUNY Poly cooperated fully today with the NYAG's (New York attorney general's) office request to search an office previously used by Todd Howe at our Albany campus," a SUNY Poly spokesman said in a statement. "We continue to cooperate fully with their investigation."

Howe's attorney, Richard Morvillo, did not respond to a question from The Associated Press asking whether he or his client knew what authorities were looking for. But he did issue a statement clarifying the nature of the office space.

"The office at SUNY Poly was not Mr. Howe's office, but rather office space he was permitted to use from time to time in connection with the consulting services he provided to the client," he wrote.

Howe and former Cuomo confidant Joseph Percoco are at the center of an increasingly complicated investigation into the Buffalo Billion initiative and Nano, the Democratic governor's effort to attract high-tech nanotechnology jobs. Cuomo has launched his own internal investigation and vowed to "throw the book" at anyone found to have broken the law.

His administration has also ordered SUNY Poly to run any decisions about Buffalo Billion or Nano by the independent investigator he hired to review the programs.

Schneiderman declined to go into specifics earlier this month about his office's probe, which was reportedly focused on possible bid-rigging for a dormitory project on SUNY Polytechnic's Albany campus.

"I don't want to comment on ongoing investigations but we're in the middle of it, and I don't want to prejudge it," Schneiderman told reporters.

Howe was an aide to Cuomo's father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, and was Andrew Cuomo's deputy chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He later went to work as a lobbyist for a firm whose clients included SUNY Polytechnic and two companies, COR Development and developer LPCiminelli, both of which stand to make millions of dollars off the Buffalo Billion and Nano.

A spokesman for Cuomo declined to comment when asked about Thursday's raid.

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David Klepper


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