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DA's office investigating city of Syracuse over affidavits in dismissed lawsuit

Tom Magnarelli
Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick at a swearing-in ceremony in December, 2015.

The Onondaga County District Attorney’s office has confirmed that it is investigating the city of Syracuse. The investigation revolves around affidavits signed by two common councilors supporting a lawsuit the city brought against the COR Development Company.

The affidavits, signed by councilors Helen Hudson and Khalid Bey, claim that Steven Aiello, president of COR Development, promised not to seek tax breaks, called a PILOT agreement, on the Inner Harbor project in 2012.

“I can’t comment on that business happening with the DA,” Bey said.

But Bey also said he still stands by his claim. Three former councilors disagree in affidavits of their own. One of which from Lance Denno says Aiello did say while not seeking a PILOT at the time, COR expressed it may need one in the future. Denno said the city was aware of that statement. He said that was his reasoning for being the only vote against transferring the land from the city to COR.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has previously said COR made commitments orally and in writing that they would not seek a PILOT agreement. COR eventually was awarded a PILOT through Onondaga County’s development agency.

The city’s lawsuit was dismissed by a judge in February. He ruled that the city never put in writing any limitations on pilot agreements when it transferred the Inner Harbor properties to COR.

Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick's office would only confirm that it is investigating the affidavits, but would not specify any of the details of the investigation.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.