Former Cuomo top aide found guilty on 3 counts


Joseph Percoco, who served as the insider among insiders to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, was convicted today of three felony counts for his role in a bribery scheme in which corporate interests got special attention before Cuomo's administration in return for more a steady flow of bribe money paid into Percoco's personal bank account.

Joseph Percoco, 47, was found guilty on Tuesday of two counts of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and one count of soliciting bribes.

The energy executive and two Syracuse developers are co-defendants in the case. they are accused of paying him bribes.

The jury, which had deliberated for over a week, deadlocked on whether the power plant company official, Competitive Power Venture's Peter Galbraith Kelly, committed any crimes.

In closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Zhou did not apologize for Howe.

The trial put a harsh spotlight on the attempts of several private companies to gain influence with the Cuomo administration.

Speaking outside the courthouse following the verdict, Percoco's lawyer, Barry Bohrer, said there was "inconsistency in the verdict" and said he would explore appeal options.

"I am disappointed, but as Barry says, we are going to consider our options and move forward", he said.

"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.

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The case highlighted Percoco's use of the word "ziti" in emails with Howe, a term borrowed from The Sopranos.

Cuomo was not accused of wrongdoing. 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.

Cuomo has repeatedly declined to weigh in on the trial, saying he wanted to let the legal process play out.

Cuomo's political opponents seized on the verdict.

"By any definition, Albany has a corruption problem", Horner said. 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.

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.

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.