Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Former top aide to Gov. Cuomo is convicted on corruption charges

A memorial for the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School A memorial for the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
Melinda Barton | 14 March, 2018, 12:08

Cuomo is not accused of any wrongdoing.

Percoco is accused of collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes.

A federal jury in Manhattan found Joseph Percoco guilty of two counts of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and one count of soliciting bribes after deliberating for parts of three weeks.

Aiello, a top executive at Cor Development, was convicted of one felony count after paying Percoco $35,000 in exchange for favors including his help redeveloping Syracuse's Inner Harbor and obtaining a raise for Aiello's son, who worked for Cuomo.

"To no one's surprise, the governor's former top aide and close friend Joe Percoco was found guilty this afternoon of several federal corruption charges".

Percoco faces a prison term of up to 50 years.

The people of NY deserve better.

Defense lawyers had said the payments Percoco and his wife received were legitimate fees for consulting work performed at a time when he was out of state government.

Add in high-profile retrials of two legislative leaders whose corruption convictions were overturned, and you have something less than an ideal environment for the governor first elected on a pledge to clean up Albany.

Percoco was indicted on bribery and conspiracy charges in November 2016.

"Obviously, this is a black eye to the executive branch and to Cuomo personally", said Michael Dawidziak, a Suffolk County political consultant who works mainly with Republicans.

In a mixed verdict, Percoco was convicted on three counts and acquitted of three counts.

In closing arguments, prosecutors cited emails in which Percoco and Howe used the word "ziti", saying the men borrowed it from the HBO mob drama "The Sopranos" to refer to bribes.

And Ed Cox, state GOP chairman, renewed his call for the Manhattan district attorney and the state ethics panel to investigate a side issue that emerged during the trial: Percoco's use of state offices, state phones and his state ID while he was running Cuomo's 2014 campaign and off the public payroll.

Howe's credibility was the centerpiece of the case, as defense lawyers challenged the credibility of a witness who admitted that he had been a chronic deadbeat for much of his life who cheated countless creditors, embezzled almost $1 million from his law firm, and had also been convicted of bank theft for kiting a check. And he was arrested mid-trial when he appeared to admit having violated his cooperation agreement with the government.

Mr. Howe was expected to testify in the Buffalo trial as well.

Aiello, who founded COR Development in Syracuse; Girardi, an attorney; and Galbraith Kelly Jr., of Hudson Valley Competitive Power Ventures, were all charged with paying Percoco the bribes.