Corruption trial of ex-aide to NY Governor Cuomo gets underway

Corruption trial of ex-aide to NY Governor Cuomo gets underway”

The New York Public Interest Research Group's Blair Horner, who was Cuomo's special advisor when he was the state's attorney general, said Percoco's trial "is not good news for the governor, no matter how you cut it".

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Boone laid out the government's case against Percoco, saying it's a case of "old fashion corruption" motivated by "greed, pure and simple". In one, an executive with a Syracuse-based energy company arranged to pay Percoco's wife almost $300,000 over three years in return for Percoco's help in obtaining permits to build a plant in NY state, Boone said.

Prosecutors say ex-lobbyist Todd Howe, a former Cuomo insider himself and Percoco friend who is cooperating, will testify that he helped set up the bribes - called "zitti" in emails the two exchanged - and that in return Percoco aided the energy company on a planned NY plant and helped the developers cut through red tape on state-funded projects.

Percoco, 48, of South Salem, a longtime Cuomo family insider and political enforcer who served as the governor's executive deputy secretary until 2016, is charged with using his clout in return for more than $320,000 in payoffs from a power company executive and two Syracuse developers. "Percoco chose to sell his power and betray the people of NY in return for hundreds of thousands of dollars".

In their opening arguments, defense attorneys trashed Howe, calling him a pathological liar, a tax cheat, a crook, a thief, an embezzler, and a lifelong con man who in some cases fabricated emails to look like they were written by Percoco.

"Joe Percoco is a human being", he said. "But those were not mistakes that brand him a criminal the rest of his life". Included in the other eight men being charged is COR Development founder Steven Aiello and attorney Joseph Girardi.

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Bohrer told jurors that Howe would lie in an effort to secure a lighter sentence for himself. "So he made a decision to sell the most valuable thing he had - his job".

Bohrer said the benefits described by the government were fully disclosed and legal.

Lawyers for Kelly, Aiello and Gerardi also said their clients' dealings with Percoco were legitimate, and that Howe was not credible.

The two are accused of paying Percoco $35,000 in bribes.

"It's do favors for friends, even friends in high places", Mr. Gitner said.

Joseph Percoco stands accused of taking more than $287,000 in bribes from Peter Galbraith Kelly Jr., a former executive at Competitive Power Ventures, in exchange for help getting the company a power contract and energy credits. "It was not a corrupt bargain to give Lisa Percoco a teaching job". Next up is Cuomo's chief of staff, Linda Lacewell.

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