Count-by-count verdicts in corruption trial of Percoco, Cor execs

Ex-Cuomo aide convicted on corruption charges

He faces up to 50 years in prison and will be sentenced on June 11.

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. The jury found COR development official Steve Aiello guilty on one count of bribery, but his business partner Joseph Girardi was found not guilty on any of the charges. The government also alleged he accepted $35,000 in cash.

During his years of service for Cuomo - including work at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Renewal during the Clinton administration, at the state Attorney General's office and finally in the Executive Chamber - Percoco was the governor's backstage fixer, whether the task at hand was a late-night call to a recalcitrant lawmaker or arranging the dignitaries sitting behind the governor at a bill signing. One other notable state official, who will go on trial later this year, is former SUNY Poly President Alain Kaloyeros.

The jury remained deadlocked on charges against a fourth defendant, former power plant executive Peter Galbraith "Braith" Kelly Jr.

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.

Percoco, 48, Cuomo's longtime confidante and the chairman of his 2014 re-election campaign, had pleaded not guilty. With ties dating back to Gov. Mario Cuomo, he was described as akin to a brother of Andrew Cuomo, his right-hand man and his chief political enforcer.

The case is one of a series of high-profile corruption prosecutions launched by former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

Percoco and Aiello were found guilty of using a "shell company" set up by disgraced lobbyist Todd Howe to funnel payments from Cor to Percoco in exchange for Percoco's influence in state government. Prosecutors made much of Percoco's use of the word "ziti" in emails to claim he knew he was accepting bribes.

Defense lawyers had relentlessly attacked Howe's credibility during the trial, saying he was too corrupt to be trusted. It led the government to have his bail revoked midway through his seven days on the witness stand. Monthly $7,500 checks were routed to her through a consultant and Kelly kept her name out of any publicity relating to the program, company witnesses said. Percoco and Kelly said it was just a favor between two men who became friends after being introduced by Howe. Prosecutors said Aiello and Gerardi hoped a $35,000 bribe to Percoco would secure the governor's help to re-develop a state-owned tract of land in Syracuse known as the Inner Harbor.

As for the others defendants on trial with Percoco; Steven Aiello and Joseph Gerardi, both executives of the Syracuse construction firm COR Development, Aiello was found guilty of conspiracy and not guilty of solicitation of a bribe.

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