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Witness Arrest Adds Intrigue To Trial Of Westchester Man, Ex-Cuomo Aide

Todd Howe, left, and Joseph Percoco on a 2010 fishing trip. Howe is the government's star witness in Percoco's corruption trial.
Todd Howe, left, and Joseph Percoco on a 2010 fishing trip. Howe is the government's star witness in Percoco's corruption trial. Photo Credit: U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

The government’s star witness in the corruption trial of Westchester resident and former Gov. Andrew Cuomo top aide Joseph Percoco was back on the stand after being arrested following a violation of the terms of his plea deal with his testimony during cross-examination.

Todd Howe, an infamous lobbyist with a felony on his record, has been testifying against South Salem resident Percoco, who allegedly 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.

During cross-examination, Howe admitting to attempting to defraud a Manhattan hotel of $600, violating his plea, leading to the revocation of his bail on Thursday night. Howe admitted in court that in 2016, while in Manhattan to meet with prosecutors, he attempted to get his bank to remove the charge from his bill.

With his arrest being him, Howe was back on the stand this week as the prosecution's "star witness." As his testimony continues, a judge has ruled that Howe is permitted to wear a regular suit, and will not be required to spot a prison jumpsuit in federal court. 

Howe took the stand last 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.

The defense team repeatedly attacked Howe’s credibility during cross-examination, showcasing how the lobbyist embezzled money, lost a near million dollar home for failing to make mortgage payments and has led schemes to defraud friends, co-workers, employees and family members during the past two decades.

Howe alleges he had a "come to Jesus" moment.

Percoco's trial is expected to last into next week, according to reports. Prosecutors have scheduled nearly a dozen more witnesses, then it will be the defense's turn. The trial was temporarily postponed on Monday into Tuesday after a lawyer fell ill over the weekend.

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