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Ex-Cuomo Aide From Northern Westchester Sentenced For Taking $300K In Bribes

Joseph Percoco, right, and Todd Howe on a 2010 fishing trip.
Joseph Percoco, right, and Todd Howe on a 2010 fishing trip. Photo Credit: U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

A former top aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo who lives in Northern Westchester and was convicted of accepting $300,000 in bribes from an energy company and developer has been sentenced.

Joseph Percoco, a South Salem resident, was sentenced to six years in prison in federal court in Manhattan on Thursday afternoon.

The 49-year-old Percoco has been ordered to surrender himself into custody on Dec. 28, after the holidays.

At his sentencing, U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni said Percoco was motivated by "greed and arrogance."

Along with the prison time, Percoco also received three years of supervised release.

Prosecutors had asked the judge for a sentence that would “meaningfully exceed” five years. Lawyers for  Percoco asked for a sentence of two years or less.

Percoco was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and one count of solicitation of bribes or gratuities and acquitted of two extortion charges in March related to his acceptance of $300,000 in bribes to benefit Competitive Power Ventures, an energy company that sought to build the power plant in the Hudson Valley.

He was cleared of any wrongdoing related to the Syracuse-based COR Development, which had received several sizable state projects.

Percoco was initially scheduled to be sentenced in May, but that had been postponed several times.

In a statement, Cuomo said the sentencing should “serve as a warning” to public servants who “fail to uphold” their oath as a public servant.

“I was an Assistant District Attorney and Attorney General, and the rule of the law is paramount,” he said. “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.

"On a personal level, the human tragedy for Joe’s young children and family is a very sad consequence.”

The jury nearly forced a mistrial after reaching a breaking point following nearly two weeks of deliberations. Several asked out and reported they were deadlocked as recently as two days before the conviction, but they ultimately reached a consensus regarding Percoco.

Letters of support for Percoco flooded Manhattan federal court from several former members of the Cuomo administration on behalf of Percoco as his sentencing approached, though the governor himself did not come forward in his defense.

In a letter to Caproni dated Sept. 13, Percoco expressed his remorse, calling his position in public service, “the privilege of (his) lifetime.” He noted that he “regrets that (he) has brought shame and embarrassment upon (his) former colleagues.”

“I lay awake at night filled not with the fear of what is to come for me, or the pain and embarrassment that I have brought upon myself, but with tremendous remorse for my actions and regret for the damage I have caused to others. I live with those feelings and that weight every minute of every day of my life,” he wrote.

“The choices that have brought me before this court were my choices and my choices alone. Integrity and careful attention to the rules were always virtues I demanded from each and every one of my colleagues. I failed to live up to my own high standards."

Following the sentencing, Cuomo's Republican opponent in the 2018 gubernatorial election, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, linked Cuomo with his former top lieutenant, Percoco.

"Andrew Cuomo was sentenced today - he just doesn't have to do the time," Marc Molinaro stated. "He came into office promising reform and ended up turning New York State government into a corrupt, taxpayer-paid enterprise that works only to further his presidential ambitions.

Independent gubernatorial hopeful Stephanie Miner added, "Today is a sad day for New Yorkers, but we have more sad days ahead. That's because more of Andrew Cuomo's cronies are heading to prison in the coming weeks.

"How many public officials have to be convicted before we act? Cuomo promised to clean up Albany, but we've had eight years of the corrupt status quo."

In a prepared statement following Percoco's initial conviction, Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said, “Joseph Percoco was found guilty of taking over $300,000 in cash bribes by selling something priceless that was not his to sell – the sacred obligation to honestly and faithfully serve the citizens of New York.

“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."

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