Powerful testimony is being made at the trial of Northern Westchester resident Joseph Percoco, a former top aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Last year, Percoco, of South Salem, was indicted on corruption charges that allege he accepted more than $300,000 in bribes to benefit Competitive Power Ventures, an energy company that sought to build a power plant in the Hudson Valley, and COR Development, a real estate developer that received several sizable state projects.
The bribes from both, which also included $90,000 a year payments to Percoco's wife, were arranged by Todd Howe, another former aide, infamous lobbyist and close friend of Cuomo, according to court papers.
Howe - who has been described by multiple outlets as the prosecution’s star witness - took the stand this week claiming that Percoco was a wannabe gangster and called the money he received in the “pay-to-play” scheme “ziti,” stating it was a reference to “The Soprano’s,” according to a New York Post report.
According to the report, before Howe took the stand, prosecutors unsuccessfully attempted to play a clip from the popular HBO show before he testified.
Prosecutors claim that at “on at least three occasions, between 2011 and 2016, while employed as the Executive Deputy Secretary to the Governor, and on at least two occasions during his employment by the Cuomo Campaign, Percoco threatened at least four New York State employees who were considering leaving their current jobs or state service entirely, by claiming that Percoco would use his extensive influence in New York State to prevent them from finding future employment,” according to court documents.
In a letter filed in court, it is further alleged that Percoco received approximately $27,000 from Clough Harbor and Associates, a client of Howe and significant donor to Cuomo, in exchange for setting up meetings, sending emails and taking other actions on behalf of the company. Percoco left state government in January 2016.
According to multiple reports, prosecutors are claiming that a Syracuse businessman bribed Percoco to get his son a raise. Percoco, in turn, reportedly sent an email to state officials to support the businessman’s son. The "shell company" was reportedly set up by Howe, a former lobbyist who has come under fire in recent years.
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