A former top aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will not be reporting to jail on March 1 as he continues to fight his conviction on corruption charges.
Joseph Percoco, a South Salem resident, was convicted of accepting $300,000 in bribes from an energy company last year and was sentenced to six years in prison. He was scheduled to report to prison on March 1, but a court has ruled that he can stay a free man as he continues to appeal the conviction.
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.
His fate will now be decided by a three-judge panel that will oversee his appeal. No new date to surrender to prison has been issued by officials.
He was cleared of any wrongdoing related to the Syracuse-based COR Development, which had received several sizable state projects.
This week, Percoco’s lawyer petitioned for the delay until after the court rules on a motion for bail filed by Steve Aiello, who was convicted of funneling money to the former aide. The lawyer noted that both men were convicted of the same crime, so their fates are intertwined, pending the decision on bail motions.
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."
In a statement following Percoco's sentencing, Cuomo said it 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 last year 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 Judge Valerie Caproni dated Sept. 13 last year, 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."
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