Ex-Aide to New York Gov. Cuomo Convicted of Corruption

Joseph Percoco, a former top aide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, was found guilty Tuesday of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and solicitation of bribes, a rebuke of Albany's murky backroom dealings that were laid bare during the almost eight-week trial.

Percoco, once described by the governor as his father Mario's "third son", faces up to 50 years in prison at his sentencing, which is set for June 11.

Governor Cuomo was accused of no wrongdoing but he loomed large over the trial, with several current and former Cuomo officials called to testify.

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".

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

Percoco was a longtime friend of the governor and the manager of his 2014 re-election campaign.

Percoco may have been the prosecutors' immediate target, but the fallout from reams of lurid testimony involving dubious campaign fund-raising practices and ethical evasions can't help but land on Cuomo.

Prosecutors argued that Percoco received payments of more than $300,000 in various forms in return for taking state action benefiting real estate and energy companies. Cor official Joseph Gerardi was found not guilty on any of the charges. That deadlock created an odd split decision in which jurors agreed Percoco had solicited bribes but not that Kelly had in fact bribed him.

"We want to close the LLC loophole we want to end pay to play culture in New York State".

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

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.

"What was once promised to be a new day in Albany has become the new normal of corruption", Molinaro said.

Defense lawyers had relentlessly attacked Howe's credibility during the trial, saying he was too corrupt to be trusted.

Reformers, including Blair Horner, with the New York Public Interest Research Group say they hope the verdict will finally spur Cuomo and lawmakers to fix flaws in the system that led to the conviction.

Vanessa Coleman

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