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SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The U.S. Supreme Court may consider the convictions of two men caught up in a statewide corruption scandal under former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, laying the groundwork for their early release from prison this month.
Joseph Gerardi and Steven Aiello are now out after serving four months in prison for committing wire fraud as executives of Cor Development. Aiello was sentenced to 3 years on a conviction of wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy and conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud; Gerardi was sentenced to 2 and a half years on a conviction of wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy and lying to federal officers.
Their attorney sent a letter to New York City-based Judge Valerie Caproni on July 1, requesting the release of Gerardi and Aiello along with two other codefendants, Alain Kaloyeros and Louis Ciminelli, arguing that the fact that their cases were now up for review by the Supreme Court should allow them to delay their prison sentences until a final verdict is delivered by the nation’s highest court.
“The Supreme Court’s grants of certiorari to review these questions necessarily establishes that they are substantial questions, which if resolved favorably to the Defendants will result in reversal of their conviction,” the letter, penned by Kaloyeros’ attorney Michael C. Miller, argued
That same day, Judge Caproni granted the request, with no bail required. The decision was based on the four defendants not representing a flight or safety risk, as well as the supreme court’s decision to see the case. In this instance, the government did not oppose the defendant’s request.
“It’s a rare circumstance, but not unheard of,” said Attorney Peter Pullano.
Pullano is a managing partner with law firm Tully Rinckey, with over 30 years of defense experience. He said the non-violent nature of Aiello and Gerardi’s crimes will have helped them in their release; he noted that the relatively short sentences also likely came into play, as it’s possible they will have served multiple years by the time the Supreme Court delivers a ruling.
This process has taken time already – with the case beginning in 2016, neither serving any jail time until 2022, which ended up lasting four months.
The Supreme Court, according to court documents, will look into “[w]hether the Second Circuit’s ‘right to control’ theory of wire fraud … states a valid basis for liabiliity under the federal wire fraud statute,” calling into question how fraud charges were interpreted in the case that landed Aiello and Gerardi behind bars.
Cor Development is still in operation, managing multiple high-profile properties throughout Central New York, including the space in the inner harbor that Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon is hopeful will become the spot of his $85 million aquarium.
The county legislature has yet to sign off on the project – but McMahon said they have a potential agreement for the purchase of the property with Cor Development. He said he has solely worked with Cor Development CEO Catherine Johnson, unaware of what involvement, if any, Aiello and Gerardi still have in the company.
“We’ve negotiated a potential sale agreement,” said McMahon, “it is one that is below market value [compared to] if someone else was buying directly from them.”
McMahon – declining to comment on Aiello and Gerardi’s release, stating its up to the Supreme Court now.
CNY Central reached out to COR Development for comment on the executives and their release from prison though they have not yet responded.