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Former aide to Gov. Cuomo convicted in bribery case

14 March 2018

After jurors deliberated on and off for three weeks, they acquitted Percoco of two counts of extortion and one count of bribery.

In closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Zhou did not apologize for Howe.

When asked if he was disappointed by the verdict, Percoco responded in the affirmative and noted that he will look into appealing it.

Percoco was accused of taking more than $300,000 in bribes from two companies with business before the state, NY1 reported.

"There was no charge against him but obviously it's going to have some negative impact because it occurred on his watch and by somebody extremely close to the governor and the [Cuomo] family", said Doug Muzzio, a Baruch College political scientist.

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The verdict followed a trial that shined a sometimes harsh spotlight on the Cuomo administration, and the governor must also steel himself for the June trial of a companion case focused on SUNY official Alain Kaloyeros and corruption in upstate development projects that could further complicate his re-election campaign.

The U.S. Attorney for Manhattan, Geoffrey Berman, said in a statement that Percoco had sold "his sacred obligation to honestly and faithfully serve the citizens of NY".

And Ed Cox, state GOP chairman, renewed his call for the Manhattan district attorney and the state ethics panel to investigate a side issue that emerged during the trial: Percoco's use of state offices, state phones and his state ID while he was running Cuomo's 2014 campaign and off the public payroll.

The case highlighted Percoco's use of the word "ziti" in emails with Howe, a term borrowed from The Sopranos. One of the schemes involved a job for Percoco's wife created by a power plant company that had business before the state, where she did little work.

Gov. Cuomo released a statement shortly after the conviction stating that he respect's the jury's decision. Cuomo has said his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, considered Percoco a third son.

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"The verdict demonstrated that these ideals have been violated by someone I knew for a long time", he said.

Two former powerful leaders in the state, ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, and ex-Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Republican, are scheduled to be retried on corruption charges this year after early convictions were thrown out.

Cuomo's statement on Tuesday said that "we must learn from what happened and put additional safeguards in place to secure the public trust".

Defense lawyers had relentlessly attacked Howe's credibility during the trial, saying he was too corrupt to be trusted. And if Cuomo pursues a presidential bid in 2020, as many have suggested, surely opposition researchers will attempt to use Percoco to paint Cuomo's NY as a swamp.

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White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said last week that "arbitration was won in the President's favor" regarding the case. Meanwhile, CNN notes that the 60 Minutes interview that Stormy allegedly taped could potentially air on Sunday.

Former aide to Gov. Cuomo convicted in bribery case