The jury in the federal corruption trial of Joseph Percoco, a former close aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, found him guilty on three counts of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and solicitation of bribes and gratuities.
Percoco had been accused of accepting over $300,000 in bribes from three co-defendants.
Using Howe's testimony and an extensive record of emails, prosecutors showed Percoco's increasingly urgent pleas to Howe - another longtime confidant of the Cuomos - for "ziti", a term for cash payments that Percoco borrowed from HBO's mafia drama "The Sopranos".
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. The jury found him not guilty of one count of extortion. Jurors who deliberated off and on for three weeks acquitted Percoco of two extortion counts and one of the bribery charges he had faced.More news: Featured Stock to See: Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD)
In the other scheme, Howe, as the lobbyist for the Syracuse developers, paid Percoco $35,000, and Percoco allegedly helped free up state funds owed on one project and get them exempted from having to negotiate with unions on another. A second executive with the company, Joseph Gerardi, was acquitted on all counts.
The jury had indicated to the court shortly before noon that it had reached a verdict, after earlier in the day asking whether it could reach a partial verdict, which was approved.
The trial put a harsh spotlight on the attempts of several private companies to gain influence with the Cuomo administration.
Cuomo, a Democrat, has not been accused of wrongdoing.More news: A Technical Perspective on Rite Aid Corporation (RAD)
Kelly was charged with providing Percoco's wife, Lisa Toscano Percoco, with a $90,000-per-year job with a CPV educational program - a salary that, according to trial testimony, she performed little work for, and that was paid through an obscure Connecticut-based firm in order to hide her employment from public view.
At the height of his influence, Percoco, whom Cuomo had once described as his father's "third son", was known as the governor's enforcer, responsible for everything from keeping lawmakers in line and intimidating Cuomo's political rivals to making sure chairs and thermostats were in order for the governor'spublic appearances.
His reliability was further wounded when his bail was revoked and he was jailed in the middle of his testimony, after appearing to admit on the witness stand to a previously unknown effort to defraud his credit card company. None of the defendants testified.
Gerardi and Aiello said Howe hired Percoco on his own without their knowledge, and they never entered into a corrupt quid-pro-quo deal. 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. The U.S. Attorney's office didn't immediately announce whether it would seek a retrial.More news: International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) Position Trimmed by BTIM Corp