Former Cuomo top aide found guilty on 3 counts

Lester Mason
March 13, 2018

Peter Kelly, who ran a power plant and was involved with the hiring of Percoco's wife to a low-show job, faced conspiracy and bribery charges.

Defense lawyers said the payments Percoco received, including $35,000 in cash, were legitimate fees for consulting work performed at a time when he was out of state government.

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.

When the verdict was returned, jurors convicted Percoco on two honest-services-fraud charges and one solicitation-of-bribes-and-gratuity charge. The jury was deadlocked on Kelly's verdict.

Even before the verdicts were announced, good government groups were using the revelations from the trial to press for ethics reforms that have so far eluded Cuomo, who was elected governor in 2010 on a promise to renew trust in state government. Aiello was convicted of a bribery conspiracy, but acquitted of paying bribes and of making false statements.

During his years of service for Cuomo - including work at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Renewal during the Clinton administration, at the state Attorney General's office and finally in the Executive Chamber - Percoco was the governor's backstage fixer, whether the task at hand was a late-night call to a recalcitrant lawmaker or arranging the dignitaries sitting behind the governor at a bill signing.

The almost six-week trial took an unexpected turn in early February when the prosecutors' star witness, former Cuomo aide Todd Howe, was arrested after admitting on the witness stand that he had violated his cooperation agreement. With ties dating back to Gov. Mario Cuomo, he was described as akin to a brother of Andrew Cuomo, his right-hand man and his chief political enforcer. Zhou asked. "The government didn't choose Todd Howe as a witness".

Percoco, 48, Cuomo's longtime confidante and the chairman of his 2014 re-election campaign, had pleaded not guilty.

The case is one of a series of high-profile corruption prosecutions launched by former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

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.

It led the government to have his bail revoked midway through his seven days on the witness stand. But he insisted he was a changed man, hoping to get leniency by telling the truth about old friend Percoco.

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. Lawyers for Aiello, Gerardi and Kelly could not immediately be reached.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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