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Local State Lawmakers React To Percoco Guilty Verdict

Local State Lawmakers React To Percoco Guilty Verdict

Jurors in the long corruption trial of former aide and close friend to Governor Cuomo, Joseph Percoco, have rendered a partial verdict in his trial. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

According to prosecutors, Percoco accepted more than $300,000 in bribes, most of it in the form of a $90,000-per-year, low-show job for his wife, created by a power plant company that had business before the state.

The former Cuomo aide was acquitted of three other corruption charges, and two of his three co-defendants were found not guilty. Prosecutors said he took bribes from Peter Galbraith Kelly, an executive at the energy company Competitive Power Ventures, and from Steven Aiello and Joseph Gerardi, founders of the real estate company Cor Development.

Caproni declared a mistrial on those counts.

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

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The U.S. Attorney for the Southern district of New York, Geoffrey Berman, said in a statement that Percoco was found guilty of "selling something priceless that was not his to sell - the sacred obligation to honestly and faithfully serve the citizens of New York" and that "every school child knows" Percoco's actions "violated the basic tenets a of democracy".

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

Cuomo has not been accused of wrongdoing. At one point, the key prosecution witness, a long-time lobbyist and supposed bribe-intermediary named Todd Howe, was arrested for credit card fraud, almost blowing up the whole case against Percoco. 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.

"Albany stays on trial", said Blair Horner, executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, who called the verdict "a wake-up call to Albany to do something to clean up its ethics act". The jury found Percoco received $35,000 in bribes in exchange for helping the company beat back a labor agreement and get reimbursed for funds owed to them by the state.

In closing arguments, prosecutors cited emails in which Percoco and Howe used the word "ziti" to describe money that was changing hands, saying the men borrowed it from the HBO mob drama "The Sopranos".