Contact: Kathleen R. Mecca; (716) 984-4218
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Community Charges Cuomo Administration Official with Professional Misconduct
Maria C. Lehman, licensed engineer, violated State law and the Code of Ethics for two major professional engineer organizations
BUFFALO, NY — The Niagara Gateway Columbus Park Association today filed three hard-hitting complaints of professional misconduct against Cuomo Administration official Maria C. Lehman. Lehman is accused of violating the state’s professional conduct lawgoverning licensed professionals and the codes of ethics for two major professional organizations. Lehman is a licensed professional engineer and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s personally appointed project manager for state projects at the Peace Bridge international border crossing. Lehman was previously the state’s Risk Management Director for the now-infamous Tappan Zee Bridge project.
In two shocking audio recordings (Recording 1; Recording 2) obtained by watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Lehman is heard boasting how she intentionally deceived city officials in Buffalo, NY, enabling the state to obtain city-owned property without garnering the attention of the public. The state needs the property to complete Gov. Cuomo’s $35 million pet project at the Peace Bridge that has garnered harsh ridicule from nearby residents and the environmental community.
In addition to Lehman, also heard on the two recordings are Sam Hoyt and Anthony Masiello, both of the Cuomo Administration, who vocally endorse Lehman’s efforts. At one point, Hoyt proudly remarks that state officials “brainwashed” the public into believing the state’s Peace Bridge project would somehow benefit the community. The state’s project, known as the New York Gateway Connections Improvement Project, entails the construction of highway ramps connecting I-190 to the U.S. plaza of the Peace Bridge. According to watchdog group PEER, the project violates the National Environmental Policy Act.
In an effort to hold Lehman–a licensed professional engineer–accountable for her actions, the Niagara Gateway Columbus Park Association today submitted formal charges of professional misconduct to the New York State Office of the Professions, which administers stiff penalties for licensed professionals who violate the state’s professional conduct laws. The Association also submitted official complaints to the American Society of Civil Engineers and the National Society of Professional Engineers, documenting that in the audio recordings, Lehman admits to misconduct in direct violation of seven Fundamental Cannons of the Codes of Ethics for both organizations.
The complaints report that Lehman:
- Knowingly violated the National Environmental Policy Act by beginning design and construction work for the New York Gateway Connections Improvement Project before finalizing the mandatory environmental review process.
- Deliberately hid pertinent federal and state environmental review activities from the public to prevent the public from providing input or protest before the expiration of public comment periods.
- Spearheaded a methodical effort to deceive the public and members of the City of Buffalo Common Council with regard to land transactions between the city and the State of New York.
“Lehman’s professional misconduct is not only unethical, but it poses a danger to the health and welfare of the children who live in our community,” said Kathleen R. Mecca, President of the Niagara Gateway Columbus Park Association. “Lehman is aware of the harmful air quality conditions in our neighborhood resulting from Peace Bridge truck traffic and knows that the Gateway Connections Improvement Project will only exacerbate an already deadly situation. If for no other reason, this is why Lehman actively deceived the public–to deny the community the right to object this project.”