Former Cuomo aide Joseph Percoco found guilty

Fordham Law Prof. Zephyr Teachout who unsuccessfully challenged Cuomo in a 2014 primary ripped Cuomo's gun-control campaign

Fordham Law Prof. Zephyr Teachout who unsuccessfully challenged Cuomo in a 2014 primary ripped Cuomo's gun-control campaign

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.

Federal prosecutors had accused Percoco, the governor's former executive deputy secretary and a longtime confidant, of accepting more than $300,000 in bribes from three executives from two companies with state business. Power plant executive Braith Kelly is also accused of paying bribes. A second executive with the company, Joseph Gerardi, was acquitted on all counts.

When asked if he was disappointed by the verdict, Percoco responded in the affirmative and noted that he will look into appealing it.

Percoco thanked his family for standing by him.

He enjoyed vast power, in other words - and, as prosecutor David Zhou said, he "sold out his influence" to the highest bidders.

Mr. Howe, who had pleaded guilty to eight felonies and was cooperating with prosecutors, described how Mr. Percoco helped the Syracuse company evade a costly union requirement on a development, and wrangled a pay raise for Mr. Aiello's son, who worked in state government.

According to prosecutors, Percoco referred to the bribes as "ziti" in emails, a term he borrowed from the HBO mafia drama The Sopranos.

The verdict followed a trial that shined a sometimes harsh spotlight on the Cuomo administration, and the governor must also steel himself for the June trial of a companion case focused on SUNY official Alain Kaloyeros and corruption in upstate development projects that could further complicate his re-election campaign.

Cuomo, who is regarded as a contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said he respects the jury's decision.

Cuomo's statement on Tuesday said that "we must learn from what happened and put additional safeguards in place to secure the public trust". "And on the other hand, it's just another one in a very, very long line of Albany convictions over the years that just continue to pile up people's cynicism and lack of confidence in Albany as a whole". More than 30 state lawmakers alone have left office facing allegations of misconduct since 2000.

Howe's credibility was the centerpiece of the case, as defense lawyers challenged the credibility of a witness who admitted that he had been a chronic deadbeat for much of his life who cheated countless creditors, embezzled almost $1 million from his law firm, and had also been convicted of bank theft for kiting a check.

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.

New York Republicans have pointed to Percoco's trial as evidence of a corrupt culture in Albany that Cuomo tolerated or even encouraged. He called the verdict "a wake-up call to Albany to do something to clean up its ethics act".

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