Joseph Percoco, a former top aide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, was found guilty Tuesday of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and solicitation of bribes, a rebuke of Albany's murky backroom dealings that were laid bare during the almost eight-week trial. The jury found him not guilty of one count of extortion.
He was convicted of two counts of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and one count of soliciting bribes.
Prosecutors said he sold that influence to two private companies for more than $300,000 worth of bribes.
Cuomo, a Democrat who is up for reelection this year, has not been charged with wrongdoing. The jury found Cor Development executive Steve Aiello guilty on one count of bribery, but his business partner Joseph Girardi was found not guilty on any of the charges.
Prosecutors countered by citing emails in which Percoco and cooperating witness Todd Howe referred to money using the word "ziti", a term borrowed from the HBO mob drama "The Sopranos".
[I] n 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. The U.S. Attorney's office didn't immediately announce whether it would seek a retrial.
Defense lawyers said the payments were legitimate fees for consulting work performed when Percoco was out of state government.
Testimony revealed that Percoco's sketchy dealings reached the highest levels of state government even after he departed public service to run Cuomo's 2014 re-election bid from April to December of that year. After the verdict, a message left with Cuomo's spokesman was not immediately returned.
Good-government groups called on Cuomo and lawmakers to take action now to strengthen oversight of government contracting and boost ethics enforcement. The people of NY deserve better. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, and former state Senate leader Dean Skelos, a Republican, were both convicted of taking bribes in 2015, but their convictions were overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.
Howe, after cutting a deal, detailed how he served as the middleman between Percoco and his co-defendants and provided much of the prosecution's most damning testimony.
None of the defendants testified.
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.
Prosecutors have said that Kelly bribed Percoco by giving his wife, Lisa Percoco, a mostly no-show job that paid $90,000 a year for three years in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to win favorable treatment from state officials for two power plant projects.