Three takeaways from the Joseph Percoco corruption trial
Three takeaways from the Joseph Percoco corruption trial
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14 March, 2018, 12:11
When the verdict was returned, jurors convicted Percoco on two charges of conspiracy to commit honest-services wire fraud, and one charge for solicitation of bribes. Last week, after fewer than 20 hours of deliberations, they declared themselves deadlocked; sent back by the judge to continue deliberating, they declared themselves deadlocked again on Monday.
The trial detailed addendums such as meals and a fishing trip to curry favor with Percoco, a man who prosecutors sought to portray as an influencer in Cuomo's hierarchy both when he was in and out of state government.
Prosecutors say Percoco accepted more than $300,000 in bribes from companies with business before the state, most in the form of a job for his wife.
Defense lawyers said the payments were legitimate fees for consulting work performed when Percoco was out of state government.
Todd Howe, who was the prosecution's star witness, agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors. And if Cuomo pursues a presidential bid in 2020, as many have suggested, surely opposition researchers will attempt to use Percoco to paint Cuomo's NY as a swamp.
In addition to the federal charges, prosecutors suggested that Mr. Percoco had violated New York State election and ethics laws by continuing to intervene in state business even after he left to work in the private sector. This latter charge could create more legal headaches for both Percoco (and Cuomo) on grounds that he still had access to state offices - and probably influence - when he should not have had either. Public records indicate that Mr. Cuomo was often in the office at the same time.
The case highlighted Percoco's use of the word "ziti" in emails with Howe, a term borrowed from The Sopranos.
Other major Albany corruption trials are scheduled to follow in quick succession: those of Sheldon Silver, the longtime former Assembly speaker, and Dean G. Skelos, the former Senate majority leader.
Steven Aiello and Joseph Gerardi, top executives at Syracuse-based Cor Development, were also accused of paying Percoco $35,000 through his wife for help with their redevelopment of Syracuse's Inner Harbor and obtaining a raise for Aiello's son, who worked for Cuomo.
Aiello and Gerardi are expected to face a second trial on separate charges that they took part in a bid-rigging scheme involving a billion-dollar development project in Buffalo, New York. One other notable state official, who will go on trial later this year, is former SUNY Poly President Alain Kaloyeros.
In one scheme, Howe testified, Kelly hired Lisa Percoco to design and occasionally teach in an outreach energy education program for elementary students in return for Percoco's advocacy in Albany.
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