Money Talk: Ciminelli projects at UB

A look into the contracts that LPCiminelli won over the years

This past Thursday, federal prosecutors outlined a pay-to-play scheme that involves Manhattan-based U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s case alleging bribery, extortion and tax evasion.

While this scheme is centered around Gov. Andrew Cuomo, there is a spotlight being shined on who could be his major beneficiary: Louis P. Ciminelli.

Ciminelli is the CEO of LPCiminelli, which is the largest general construction firm in Western New York. Ciminelli is facing charges of conspiracy and bribery for winning public contracts, which raises questions about his trend of winning bids for UB construction projects.

The most recent UB project bids that LPCiminelli has won include the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences project and the Clinical and Translational Research Center.

The projects together represent a hefty price tag, costing $52.5 million and $118 million, respectively.

Ciminelli was also involved in a number of other UB projects, according to Artvoice article “The Great UB Heist” by Buck Quigley.

GPS Construction Services is a subsidiary of LPCiminelli, which was ran by Ciminelli’s cousin, Robert Savarino. GPS also had won contracts from UB.

GPS was the general contractor for the construction of the Alfiero Center at UB’s School of Management in 2004.

The company was reabsorbed back into LPCiminelli, but not before being picked as a contractor for two off-campus housing projects at UB in 2008.

In 2010, Ciminelli was involved in the construction of Greiner Hall, which was named after William R. Greiner. Greiner’s son managed approximately $45 million in new development projects while working for Ciminelli development.

All while these projects are being won and completed, Louis’ brother, Frank L. Ciminelli, owner of Ciminelli Development and Senior Vice President of LP Ciminelli Inc., played a role as emeritus trustee of the UB Foundation.

Most of the contracts that Ciminelli has worked through have had either a Ciminelli or someone from Ciminelli’s camp on both sides of the deal.

Quigley did an amazing job of looking into Ciminelli and the projects he’s won for UB, which raises the question: What contracts haven’t a Ciminelli firm won?

His current charges, which also involve Solar City and the Buffalo Billion project investigations, paint a picture of corruption that has seeped into state coffers, of which Ciminelli had received the most money from.

If Ciminelli is found guilty on these charges of rigging and bribery, what does this mean for the future of UB construction projects and who awards these contracts?

While it has been said a conviction won’t impede Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences progress, we’ll definitely be hearing about UB’s part in the Ciminelli story.

Kenneth Kashif Thomas is the senior editor for the features desk and can be reached at