Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Former top aide to NY Gov. Cuomo sentenced to 6yrs in prison

Although Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not been charged in the case, his administration has taken official state action to benefit large companies that paid bribes to his former top aide.

Image Credit: Mary Altaffer/AP

Convicted of soliciting and accepting more than $315,000 in bribes, the former executive deputy secretary to the Governor of the State of New York, was sentenced Thursday to six years in federal prison. Although Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not been charged in the case, his administration has taken official state action to benefit large companies that paid bribes to his former top aide.

While serving as the Executive Deputy Secretary to the Governor between January 2012 and mid-2014, and again in 2015, Joseph Percoco abused his official position by seeking and accepting bribe payments from executives at energy company Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) and Syracuse-based real estate developer COR Development. Percoco received more than $287,000 in bribe payments from CPV, including expensive meals, a Hamptons fishing trip, and hiring his then-unemployed wife to work for CPV, in exchange for his political power and influence over lucrative contracts.

Percoco also received bribes totaling approximately $35,000 from COR Development. These bribe payments were orchestrated by Steven Aiello, the COR president.

In November 2016, a federal grand jury in Manhattan returned a 14-count indictment against Percoco and seven others on corruption charges. On March 13, Percoco was convicted of two counts of honest services fraud conspiracy and one count of bribery following an eight-week trial.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni sentenced him to six years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Restitution and forfeiture amounts will be determined at a later date.

“Joseph Percoco, the former executive deputy secretary to the Governor, was a powerful New York State official who sold his influence and his office in exchange for more than $300,000 in bribes,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said on Thursday. “For those crimes, he will now serve time in federal prison. Today’s sentence sends a strong message that public officials who violate their duties to faithfully serve the citizens of New York will be held accountable for their corrupt actions.”

“I hope this sentence will be heard in Albany,” Judge Caproni stated during the sentencing.

“I was an Assistant District Attorney and Attorney General, and the rule of law is paramount. Joe Percoco is paying the price for violating the public trust. And it should serve as a warning to anyone who fails to uphold his or her oath as a public servant,” Gov. Cuomo said in statement after Percoco’s sentencing. “On a personal level, the human tragedy for Joe’s young children and family is a very sad consequence.”

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York, Percoco is the first defendant who has been sentenced after being convicted in this case. COR president Steven Aiello, who was found guilty at the same trial of one count of honest services fraud conspiracy, is scheduled to be sentenced on November 29. CPV executive Peter Galbraith Kelly Jr., who pled guilty on May 11, to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, is scheduled to be sentenced on October 16.

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