March 18, 2018

Ex-Cuomo aide Percoco convicted, faces up to 20 years in prison

14 March 2018, 12:06 | Opal Carroll

Cuomo's ex-aide, guilty of 3 felonies in bribery case

Fordham Law Prof. Zephyr Teachout who unsuccessfully challenged Cuomo in a 2014 primary ripped Cuomo's gun-control campaign

Percoco, 48, who served as Cuomo's former campaign manager and deputy executive secretary, was facing six counts, but the jury found him guilty of only three: conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and solicitation of bribes and gratuities, according to POLITICO.

Government watchdog groups also noted that evidence showed Percoco and other Cuomo staffers using private email to conduct public business, a lobbyist saying he was advised by an administration official that registering as a lobbyist would make it more hard to operate, and a contributor being coached on how to hide donations to Cuomo to avoid campaign limits. They say that included a $35,000 payment from Cor Development to secure the governor's help redeveloping a state-owned tract of land in Syracuse known as the Inner Harbor, and a $90,000-a-year job for Percoco's wife from Kelly, a former executive at Competitive Power Ventures, to clear hurdles with the state to build power plants. Howe, who pleaded guilty to numerous crimes after cooperating with prosecutors, was arrested again during the trial when he admitted violating his deal with prosecutors by trying to avoid paying a luxury hotel bill.

The trial has been a persistent headache for Mr. Cuomo, who declined to comment throughout, citing respect for the judicial process.

New York Republicans have pointed to Percoco's trial as evidence of a corrupt culture in Albany that Cuomo tolerated or even encouraged.

Prosecutors had urged a conviction, saying Percoco's communications with former close friend Todd Howe, a lobbyist, shows he participated in a bribery conspiracy.

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Percoco began working for the Cuomos as a 19-year-old back when the governor's father, Mario, was the head of NY state government. Public records indicate that Mr. Cuomo was often in the office at the same time.

There were plenty of juicy tidbits from weeks of testimony, including Percoco's habit of using the word "ziti" to heavily suggest monetary payments a la mob drama "The Sopranos".

Silver and Skelos are both expected to be retried this year.

And in June, another former Cuomo ally, Alain E. Kaloyeros, will stand trial in a case that may cast further unflattering light on the governor's administration. Kaloyeros, the former president of the State University's Polytechnic Institute, faces charges involving bid-rigging in "Buffalo Billion", Cuomo's signature upstate economic development project. Gerardi was found not guilty of both charges.

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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