Published: Wed, March 14, 2018
Global | By Marsha Munoz

Jurors send out note at Cuomo aide trial

Jurors send out note at Cuomo aide trial

Jurors informed the court twice that they were deadlocked in the case against Percoco and three businessmen accused of bribing him.

In a statement, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman released a statement saying, "Joseph Percoco was found guilty of taking over $300,000 in cash bribes by selling something priceless that was not his to sell - the sacred obligation to honestly and faithfully serve the citizens of NY".

"Percoco sold out his vast power, he sold out his influence and he betrayed the people of NY", a prosecutor, David Zhou, said in his closing arguments.

At trial, Howe's testimony focused on the two different schemes for his clients to help Percoco get money - or "ziti", as the two called it in emails - to help with his finances, while Howe was able to ensure continuing retainers from his clients by using Percoco to get things done in Albany. 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.

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Defense attorneys claimed Percoco's actions weren't criminal and the payments were for legitimate work.

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.

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. That may indicate that the jury has reached a decision on at least some of the allegations.

Cuomo said that while he is sad for Percoco's young daughters "who will have to deal with this pain", there's "no tolerance for any violation of the public trust". "And on the other hand, it's just another one in a very, very long line of Albany convictions over the years that just continue to pile up people's cynicism and lack of confidence in Albany as a whole".

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The verdict followed five weeks of testimony on charges that Percoco, 48, of South Salem, got over $300,000 in bribes set up by lobbyist Todd Howe, the star government witness, from co-defendants Peter Galbraith Kelly, an energy executive, and Steve Aiello and Joe Gerardi, Syracuse developers.

Defense lawyers had relentlessly attacked Howe's credibility during the trial, saying he was too corrupt to be trusted.

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. 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.

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