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Friends, Family Of Ex-Cuomo Aide From Westchester Urging Leniency In Bribery Sentence

Joseph Percoco, right, and Todd Howe on a 2010 fishing trip. Howe is the government's star witness in Percoco's corruption trial.
Joseph Percoco, right, and Todd Howe 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

A cacophony of voices have come forward asking for leniency for Northern Westchester resident Joseph Percoco, a former top aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is awaiting sentencing following his conviction on corruption charges earlier this year.

Joseph Percoco, a South Salem resident, was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and one count of solicitation of bribes or gratuities.

He was 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.

According to multiple reports, letters of support have flooded Manhattan federal court by several former members of the Cuomo administration on behalf of Percoco, though the governor himself has not come forward in his defense.

Politico reported that more than 150 pages of letters from friends, family, rabbis and lobbyists have been sent to the court imploring the judge for a light sentence.

Percoco had been scheduled to be sentenced on June 6, but that has been postponed until Aug. 10. He remains free on bail. He will face up to 50 years in prison when he is sentenced.

The bribes were arranged by Todd Howe, another former aide, infamous lobbyist, and close friend of Cuomo, according to court papers. Howe was grilled by the defense team for several days of the trial during cross-examination, leading to his arrest after he violated the terms of an agreement of his plea bargain.

During cross-examination, Howe admitted to attempting to defraud a Manhattan hotel of $600, violating his plea, leading to the revocation of his bail on late in the trial, which began on Jan. 22. 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.

On the stand during the trial, Howe said that Percoco called the money he received in the “pay-to-play” scheme “ziti,” stating it was a reference to “The Sopranos,” according to a New York Post report. According to the report, before Howe took the stand, prosecutors unsuccessfully lobbied 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 failure to make mortgage payments and has led schemes to defraud friends, co-workers, employees and family members over the past two decades.

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