The former director of the New York State Fair in Syracuse was arrested today on criminal charges for allegedly using his position for personal gain, including sweetheart deals to hold his daughters’ weddings at the fairgrounds.
Peter Cappuccilli Jr., the fair’s director from 1995 until 2005, was charged with grand larceny, defrauding the government and official misconduct, according to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
The felony complaint alleges that Cappuccilli used his position to host a wedding for his two daughters on the grounds at less than fair market value and got steep discounts from the wedding caterer, Catering With A Flair, which also had substantial business with the State Fair.
In one of the weddings in 2004, Cappuccilli allegedly received more than $66,000 in benefits, Cuomo said, including directing fair employees to drain and paint a man-made pond for the wedding. He also ordered the fairground facilities to be shut down for the wedding, costing the fair more than $46,000 in concert and rental fees, Cuomo said.
“The Fair is an upstate economic engine and an important cultural outlet that is intended to serve all New Yorkers,” Cuomo, the incoming governor, said in a statement.
“As today’s actions show, we will not tolerate the graft and backroom deals that have corrupted this proud institution.”
Cuomo’s investigation was sparked by a scathing report by the Inspector General’s Office in August that found Cappuccilli misspent more than $900,000 during his 10-year tenure.
Cappuccilli was arraigned today in the Geddes Town Court in Onondaga County. He faces up to seven years in prison.
There was no immediate comment from Cappuccilli’s attorney, William Dreyer.
The State Fair, one of the largest and longest running fairs in the nation, runs from Aug. 25 through Sept. 5 next year. It was started in 1841. Roughly one million visitors attend the fair each year, bringing in about $16 million a year in revenue, Cuomo said.