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. Aiello was found guilty on Tuesday of one count of conspiracy, while Gerardi was acquitted of all charges, Dawn Dearden, a spokeswoman for the prosecutors, said.
A former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo was convicted on corruption charges Tuesday at a trial that further exposed the state capital's culture of backroom deal-making. As every schoolchild knows, but he corruptly chose to disregard, government officials who sell their influence to select insiders violate the basic tenets of a democracy.
The verdict against Joseph Percoco is the highest-profile federal corruption conviction in NY since the 2015 convictions of two former leading state legislators, which were later overturned.
Howe, who had pleaded guilty to eight felonies and was cooperating with prosecutors, described how Percoco helped the Syracuse company evade a costly union requirement on a development and wrangled a pay raise for Aiello's son, who worked in state government.
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. The jury is deadlocked on those charges. One guilty verdict was linked to Percoco's schoolteacher wife, Lisa, who was hired by Kelly to a $90,000-per-year low-show job.
Howe recounted that he and Percoco, lifting a reference from the mob drama "The Sopranos", used the word "ziti" to refer to bribe money.
The prosecution took a huge mid-case hit when star witness Todd Howe, a former lobbyist, was arrested after admitting that he tried to scam the Waldorf-Astoria over a $600 hotel bill.
Jurors sent a note Monday and the week prior saying they were deadlocked.
The verdict came during the trial's eighth week.
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.
According to prosecutors, Percoco lined his pockets with kickbacks in two separate bribery schemes. At one point, the key prosecution witness, a long-time lobbyist and supposed bribe-intermediary named Todd Howe, was arrested for credit card fraud, almost blowing up the whole case against Percoco. They said Kelly, a former executive at Competitive Power Ventures, hoped to clear hurdles with the state for power plants by paying Percoco's wife $290,000 in salary for a job that required little work.
Cuomo was not charged with any crimes by the federal prosecutor or implicated in Percoco's deeds.