News briefs

What you need to know in local, national and global news

The Spectrum


UB Employees Campaign for the Community surpasses campaign goal

UB employees raised $850,112 for the 2018 Employees Campaign for the Community, according to UBNow. 

Campaign for the Community started in 1976 and is ranked “one of the five largest university giving campaigns in the nation.” Proceeds support Buffalo-area groups in aspects such as “health and wellness, neighborhood revitalization, economic development and pre-K-16 education,” according to the campaign website.

Donations can be designated to over 2,800 global community organizations and prizes are given to select individuals and departments that donate.

The campaign surpassed the $850,000 goal, marking its 18th year to surpass $800,000 in donations. UB employees have raised over $18 million since the campaign started 43 years ago.

Donations are still being accepted for the 2018 campaign until March 31. 

UB sets renewable energy goal of 100 megawatts

A UB-led initiative issued requests for proposals (RFPs) Thursday to generate 100 megawatts of renewable energy, according to UB News. 

The RFPs elicited on-site installations of renewable and solar energy technologies at UB, Buffalo State College, SUNY Erie and the City of Buffalo and Erie County as part of Localizing Buffalo’s Renewable Energy Future.

The 100-megawatt goal is enough to run 50 percent of the institutions’ electricity use. This is projected to eliminate 82,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions yearly.

Energy generated at these sites will be used by the association the source belongs to — energy generated in Buffalo will provide power to the city, sites in Erie County will provide energy to the county — as determined by a power purchase agreement.

This agreement determines fixed energy prices which will provide consumers with long-term certainty of energy costs. 


Prosecutors seek to reclaim fraudulently-acquired funds from Louis Ciminelli

Federal prosecutors filed a claim for $7.6 million from local businessman Louis Ciminelli, according to The Buffalo News.

The claim includes requests for $898,954 from each of his co-defendants, Steven Aiello and Joseph Gerardi, for their roles in the Buffalo RiverBend project.

These respective sums reflect what prosecutors believe the three made on the project, which was derived from state funds provided by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion project.

Ciminelli was convicted of fraud and conspiracy in Dec. 2018 and sentenced to 28 months in prison for allegedly bid-rigging state contracts connected to the Buffalo Billion project.

Ciminelli’s lawyer, Paul Shechtman said his client agreed to the $7.6 million contingent on the Federal Court of Appeals’ decision. 

Shechtman said he will pay the full sum if Ciminelli’s appeal is denied, however, if the appeal is successful, the state and federal governments will get nothing.

Catholic Diocese of Buffalo sells two historic residences for millions

The Buffalo Diocese is working to sell two properties, one on Oakland Place and the other on Linwood Avenue, according to The Buffalo News. The properties could be sold for a collective $2.5 to $3 million.

Profits from the sale of Bishop Malone’s house, which is under contract to an unidentified buyer, will benefit victims of clergy sex abuse. The Sheehan Residence on Linwood Avenue was sold to Mingo Junction Steel Works for a reported $1.3 million, the proceeds of which will support medical funds for retired priests, according to a news release from the Diocese. 

The investment group which purchased the Sheehan Residence plans to turn the home into a collection of high-end apartments, completing minor improvements to the interior but leaving the exterior of the historic building intact.


Virginia governor facing possible impeachment

Democratic Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax faces impeachment as two women accused him of sexual assault in the 2000s. 

Fairfax denied the allegations and requested the FBI investigate the claims. 

The claims follow the release of racist yearbook photos belonging to Gov. Ralph Northam, Fairfax’s colleague. 

Virginia’s legislature may be required to find replacements for the two positions, should Fairfax or Northam choose to step down. If the two leave office, Democratic legislators will no longer hold Virginia’s highest seats, as Kirk Cox, Republican house speaker, is next in line for their positions. 

CVS employee defrauded company of $2.5 million in the form of diabetic test strips

Antonio Rivera was charged with theft of preretail medical products, trafficking said products, conspiracy to sell and distribute the products and wire fraud by the U.S. Attorney’s office, according to USA Today.

Rivera was arraigned in federal court on Friday and released afterward.

Rivera allegedly used his position as senior assistant purchasing manager in a Rochester CVS branch to buy over 20,000 boxes of diabetic strips, intercept the packages and resell them to third parties.

Prosecutors believe Rivera had upwards of $700,000 in his PayPal account gained from his illicit activities.

If convicted of all charges Rivera could face up to 20 years in federal prison.


Afghans protest after air raids kill 21 civilians

Air raids in Sangin killed 21 civilians and wounded five on Friday, according to Al Jazeera

Hundreds of protestors gathered in Helmand province, speaking against the security force air raids. The district is experiencing “heavy fighting” between the Taliban and Afghan forces.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reported “aerial bombardment killed 149 people and wounded more than 200 other civilians in the first half of 2018.” 

Afghan legislators have spoken out against the attacks, standing by their civilians. 

The Afghan intelligence service said it arrested three suspects, who confessed to involvement in a truck bombing near the German Embassy in 2017 as well as a November 2018 attack.

They also arrested an imam who recruited hundreds of people for a local sect of ISIS and admitted his nephew conducted a suicide bombing in Kabul.


U.S., Russia present conflicting proposals on Venezuela

The U.S. proposed a resolution on Venezuela to the United Nations which included international aid and presidential elections, according to Al Jazeera

Moscow responded with a resolution suggesting maintenance of Venezuela’s political independence and criticizing “attempts to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of Venezuela.”

The U.S. supports Juan Guaido, the Venezuelan opposition leader, over current President Nicolas Maduro. Guiado declared himself interim head of state and is supported by Colonel Ruben Paz Jimenez, deputy of the Directorate of the Military Hospital in Maracaibo along with “90 percent” of his colleagues.

No date has been set for voting on the U.S. proposal, but diplomats proposed Russia will likely veto the resolution. 

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