Fmr. Cuomo Aide Joseph Percoco Found Guilty in Corruption Trial


Joseph Percoco, who served as the insider among insiders to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, was convicted today of three felony counts for his role in a bribery scheme in which corporate interests got special attention before Cuomo's administration in return for more a steady flow of bribe money paid into Percoco's personal bank account.

The jurors made clear virtually from the start that they were struggling to reach consensus.

Percoco was accused of accepting more than $300,000 in bribes from two companies with state business, the New York Times reported. 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.

A jury delivered a verdict Tuesday in the trial after deliberating for parts of three weeks.

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.

But Mr. Howe at times seemed poised to be the prosecution's downfall, rather than its linchpin.

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.

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But defense lawyers said the argument was a stretch, noting that Howe nearly always initiated use of the word in their email conversations. Republicans had seized upon the trial as evidence of a seamy Albany culture that they claimed the governor, a Democrat, had condoned and even encouraged.

The bribes included a "low-show job" for his wife, Lisa, in which she earned $90,000 a year, as noted in then-U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's indictment unveiled in November 2016.

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.

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.

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

At the height of his influence, Mr. Percoco, whom Mr. Cuomo had once described as his father's "third son", was known as the governor's enforcer, responsible for everything from keeping lawmakers in line and intimidating Mr. Cuomo's political rivals to making sure chairs and thermostats were in order for the governor's public appearances.

Aiello was convicted of a single felony, while Aiello was found not guilty, according to various media reports. One other notable state official, who will go on trial later this year, is former SUNY Poly President Alain Kaloyeros.