Cuomo Investigates State Fair

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Attorney General Andrew Cuomo today said his office will investigate potential “patronage, cronyism and waste of taxpayer money” at the New York State Fair.

The move by the Democratic candidate for governor comes after a scathing report by the Inspector General’s Office earlier this month that found former State Fair Director Peter Cappuccilli, Jr. misspent more than $900,000 during his 10-year tenure at the fair.

Cuomo said his office has issued subpoenas to several contractors and other related entities, including the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, as part of a civil investigation into the fair, which is located in Syracuse. His office received a necessary referral from the governor’s office to conduct the probe.

The effort also includes a criminal investigation of Cappuccilli’s alleged offenses, Cuomo said.

Cappuccilli served as fair director from 1995 through 2005, and Inspector General Joseph Fisch alleged he diverted $78,000 for personal use and squandered an additional $870,000 lavish parties and other questionable expenses.

The State Fair, one of the largest and longest running fairs in the nation, runs from Aug. 26 through Sept. 6. It was started in 1841. Roughly 1 million visitors attend the fair each year, bringing in about $16 million a year in revenue, Cuomo’s office said.

“The fair is a source of pride for all New Yorkers and we must protect it,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Our actions are aimed at ending systemic problems that have created a culture of patronage and cronyism at the expense of taxpayers.”

State Fair Director Dan O’Hara said the fair will cooperate with the attorney general’s probe.

“Certainly we are going to cooperate if he looks a little deeper in the operation here,” O’Hara said. “Since I became fair director in 2007, I’ve taken many actions to eliminate cronyism, nepotism and other things to bring both transparency and accountability to the fair.”

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