Local State Lawmakers React To Percoco Guilty Verdict

Efrain Diaz Figueroa right walks by his sisters home destroyed in the passing of Hurricane Maria in San Juan Puerto Rico Monday Oct. 9 2017

Local State Lawmakers React To Percoco Guilty Verdict

"To no one's surprise, the governor's former top aide and close friend Joe Percoco was found guilty this afternoon of several federal corruption charges".

Two of Percoco's three co-defendants in the trial were not convicted on any of the charges.

The U.S. Attorney for Manhattan, Geoffrey Berman, said in a statement that Percoco had sold "his sacred obligation to honestly and faithfully serve the citizens of NY".

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. Prosecutors made much of Percoco's use of the word "ziti" in emails to claim he knew he was accepting bribes.

Cuomo, a Democrat, has not been accused of 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.

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Aiello and Gerardi are expected to face a second trial on separate charges that they took part in a bid-rigging scheme involving a billion-dollar development project in Buffalo, New York. They said Kelly hoped Percoco would help Competitive Power Ventures clear regulatory hurdles by paying Percoco's wife $290,000 in salary for a job that required little work.

Defense lawyers said the payments Percoco received, including $35,000 in cash, were legitimate fees for consulting work performed at a time when he was out of state government. In closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Zhou did not apologize for Howe.

The ex-lobbyist also told jurors about Cuomo's attendance at a fundraiser in a showroom full of Corvettes to raise $125,000 in untraceable contributions, while prosecutors offered evidence that Percoco exercised power and was allowed to use his state office near the governor even after quitting the government to run Cuomo's re-election campaign.

Cuomo, who is regarded as a contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, has repeatedly declined to weigh in on the trial, saying he wanted to let the legal process play out.

"The jury has reached a verdict and I respect that decision", Cuomo said. More than 30 state lawmakers alone have left office facing allegations of misconduct since 2000. 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. The people of NY deserve better. Howe, who pleaded guilty to numerous crimes after cooperating with prosecutors, was arrested again during the trial when he admitted violating his deal with prosecutors by trying to avoid paying a luxury hotel bill. He called the verdict "a wake-up call to Albany to do something to clean up its ethics act".

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