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Former top aide to Gov. Cuomo is convicted on corruption charges

Former top aide to Gov. Cuomo is convicted on corruption charges

Joseph Percoco, a former top advisor and close confidante of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, was convicted on fraud and bribery charges in a federal corruption case on Tuesday.

When Percoco was first indicted, Cuomo said it was a "profoundly sad situation for me personally" and that the justice system "must take its course".

The National Republican Campaign Committee said that "Cuomo's record of scandal and corruption" would hurt Democratic House candidates.

Prosecutors countered by citing emails in which Percoco and cooperating witness Todd Howe referred to money using the word "ziti", a term borrowed from the HBO mob drama "The Sopranos".

Percoco, 48, of South Salem, Westchester County, is accused of collecting more than $300,000 in bribes from the co-defendants to help their companies with business before the state. The government also alleged he accepted $35,000 in cash.

Star federal witness Howe had ties of his own to the governor dating back 30 years.

In one scheme, Howe testified, Kelly hired Lisa Percoco to design and occasionally teach in an outreach energy education program for elementary students in return for Percoco's advocacy in Albany.

But beyond the sensational details, trial testimony portrayed an unsavory state government where big campaign contributors are eager to curry favor, willing to exploit campaign finance limit loopholes.

Steve Aiello and Joseph Gerardi, two of Percoco's co-defendants, were acquitted on nearly all counts, but Aiello was convicted of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud.

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U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni told the jury to keep deliberating.

Silver and Skelos are both expected to be retried this year.

Kelly was accused of arranging a low-show job for Percoco's wife that ended up paying her $280,000 over three years and seeking Percoco's help with power plants they were building in Orange County and New Jersey.

Authorities say that Percoco orchestrated his pay-to-play corruption scheme with contractors doing business with, or looking to do business with, the state.

And though Cuomo wasn't charged with any wrongdoing, the trial did nothing to allay lingering suspicions that the governor condoned and even encouraged that shameful status quo.

Who knows what the political landscape will look like in 2020, a few newscycles and myriad Twitter storms in the future.

In a mixed verdict, Percoco was convicted on three counts and acquitted of three counts.

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

"And an unhappy electorate can sometimes - not always, but sometimes - lead to big problems for incumbents". "Anything less is unacceptable".


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