Former Aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Convicted on Corruption Charges

Joseph Percoco leaves court

Joseph Percoco leaves court

Prosecutors said Aiello and Gerardi hoped a $35,000 bribe to Percoco would secure the governor's help to re-develop a state-owned tract of land in Syracuse known as the Inner Harbor.

Though New York has seen the fall of Assembly and Senate leaders, rank-and-file legislators and state-agency commissioners, experts on state political history said they couldn't recall a top adviser to the governor - with the access and influence of Percoco - convicted on public corruption charges in the past 80 years or more.

Jurors in the eight-week federal corruption trial of a former state official and three business executives today asked whether they can give a verdict on some of the 10 counts but not others. The Syracuse men allegedly paid $35,000 for Percoco to help cut red tape on state-funded projects, and push a raise for Aiello's son, who worked for Cuomo.

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".

There were plenty of juicy tidbits from weeks of testimony, including Percoco's habit of using the word "ziti" to heavily suggest monetary payments a la mob drama "The Sopranos".

Defense attorneys argued the entire case rested on unreliable testimony from the government's star witness, Todd Howe.

Mr. Howe was expected to testify in the Buffalo trial as well.


Geoffrey Berman, interim U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of NY, said that in committing his crimes, Percoco sold "the sacred obligation to honestly and faithfully serve the citizens of NY".

"Why it's ok for the head of the campaign to be working as a volunteer as it were out of the governor's office and influencing important state decisions is a matter of great concern to watchdog groups like ours", John Kahney of Reinvent Albany said. Both men are being retried after their convictions were overturned on appeal a year ago.

Percoco was one of four defendants in the case and only of them was convicted, Steven Aiello.

Constant headlines about murky pay-to-play practices or even wholesale alleged corruption by state officials aren't the ideal backdrop for Cuomo's gubernatorial election campaign this year.

Cuomo, a Democrat, has not been accused of wrongdoing. 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. The Republican opposition is having a hard time getting to its feet.

In a mixed verdict, Percoco was convicted on three counts and acquitted of three counts. "Anything less is unacceptable".

"And an unhappy electorate can sometimes - not always, but sometimes - lead to big problems for incumbents".

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