A former top aide to Cuomo was sentenced to six years in prison on Thursday, Sept. 20 for fraud and accepting bribes. The federal judge said she hopes the punishment “will be heard in Albany.”
U.S. District Judge Valerie E. Caproni said that the sentencing of South Salem resident Joseph Percoco comes amid other high-profile convictions of state officials. “If you do so, this court will show you no mercy,” Caproni said.
Percoco, 49, was convicted of accepting more than $300,000 from companies that wanted to influence the Cuomo Administration.
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said Thursday's sentencing of a man Cuomo once likened to a brother is an indictment of the administration.
“Andrew Cuomo was sentenced today — he just doesn’t have to do the time,” Molinaro said. “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.”
In a separate development this week, Molinaro called Cuomo out on his name-calling. Talking to reporters in Albany, Molinaro complained about the Cuomo campaign's penchant for calling the 5-foot-8-inch Republican "Mini Me," after the diminutive character in Austin Powers' movies. Molinaro said the "Mini Me" attacks are "beneath us."
Cuomo campaign spokeswoman Abbey Fashouer said Molinaro's criticism is unwarranted, contending his policy positions are similar to those espoused by President Trump, according to this article in which the president of Little People of America also blasted the name-calling.
Molinaro added: “In the coming weeks other top Cuomo lieutenants and donors within the Cuomo Machine will be sentenced to jail time, while Mr. Cuomo skates free, unscathed and un-investigated. Two attorneys general have been too afraid to investigate his alleged illegalities. The Manhattan District Attorney is afraid. Mr. Cuomo’s ethics commission, JCOPE, is, indeed, a joke, and no one will investigate his constant election law violations.
“That leaves it up to the People of New York to act. Only they can prove Teddy Roosevelt’s adage true, that ‘no man is above the law.’ Only the people of this great state can take a stand to stop the corrupt enterprise that is the Cuomo Administration," Molinaro said.
Prosecutors sought at least five years in prison for Percoco while his defense lawyer said he should get no more than two years.
Cuomo wasn’t accused of wrongdoing, but in a statement, Cuomo said Percoco was “paying the price for violating the public trust.” He said it should “serve as a warning to anyone who failed to uphold his or her oath as a public servant.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Janis Echenberg told Caproni that Percoco was known by many as Cuomo’s “right-hand man.”
“Joseph Percoco wielded immense power and he wielded it behind closed doors,” she said.
Echenberg called him Cuomo’s “closest adviser, his enforcer” and said getting a call from him was like “getting a call from the governor himself.”
The judge agreed, saying Percoco’s crimes had “reached to the highest level.”
New York City Public Advocate Latitia "Tish" James, a fellow Democrat and candidate for state Attorney General, said: “Today's sentencing sends a clear message that no one is above the law. As Attorney General, I will have zero tolerance for corruption of any kind and will use every tool at my disposal to root out corruption in New York.”
Molinaro added: “I remind those New Yorkers of one thing today: We don’t have to live this way. The Cuomo Corruption Tax that costs taxpayers billions and that wastes billions more on corporate pay-to-play giveaways is optional. We can opt out of it by retiring Governor Cuomo in November. We can do better as a state. That is what I am offering, today and for the next four years.”
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