A Manhattan jury on Tuesday convicted Joe Percoco, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's former "right-hand man" in Albany, of three of six corruption counts he faced, ending the marathon federal bribery trial with a mixed verdict for him and three codefendants.
Joseph Percoco, who was once likened to a brother by the Democrat Cuomo, faces up to 20 years in prison for his conviction on two counts of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and one count of soliciting bribes.
Only one of Percoco's three co-defendants was convicted: Syracuse developer Steven Aiello. A second executive with the company, Joseph Gerardi, was acquitted on all counts.
County Executive Steve Neuhaus, who had asked state agencies to review their permitting decisions after Percoco's arrest in 2016, went further after the jury's verdict, saying the state "should revoke any and all permits" it gave Competitive Power Ventures, the company that built the $900 million plant.
The trial put a harsh spotlight on the attempts of several private companies to gain influence with the Cuomo administration.
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Prosecutors say Percoco accepted more than $300,000 in bribes from companies with business before the state, most in the form of a job for his wife. The prosecution said ziti was code for bribe money, while Percoco's attorney said it was just banter among friends, and a distraction from the real issues in the case.
Percoco thanked his family for standing by him.
"I am disappointed. We're going to consider our options and move forward", Percoco told reporters afterward.
"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.
Defense attorneys argued the entire case rested on unreliable testimony from the government's star witness, Todd Howe. The governor and his campaign have refused to respond to reporters' questions emerging from the trial, including queries about Percoco's apparently open use of his Executive Chamber office during an eight-month period in 2014 when he had ostensibly resigned from his official post to run Cuomo's first re-election campaign.
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The trial has been a persistent headache for Mr. Cuomo, who declined to comment throughout, citing respect for the judicial process.
Cuomo's political opponents seized on the verdict.
Other major Albany corruption trials are scheduled to follow in quick succession: those of Sheldon Silver, the longtime former Assembly speaker, and Dean G. Skelos, the former Senate majority leader.
Tom Rumsey, CPV's senior vice president for external affairs, pointed out in response to the verdict that prosecutors had made no charges and presented no evidence during the trial that showed CPV's permits were "obtained in an improper way".
Within minutes of the verdict, good-government groups called on Cuomo and lawmakers to take action this year to strengthen oversight of government contracting and boost ethics enforcement.
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