Ex-aide to New York Governor Cuomo found guilty of taking bribes

NEW YORK, March 13 (Reuters) - A former aide to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was found guilty by a Manhattan jury on Tuesday of agreeing to take bribes from executives at two companies seeking to do business with the state government, federal prosecutors said.

The verdict against Joseph Percoco is the highest-profile federal corruption conviction in New York since the 2015 convictions of two former leading state legislators, which were later overturned. Percoco's lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment.

Cuomo, a Democrat who is up for reelection this year, has not been charged with wrongdoing.

Percoco was indicted on bribery and conspiracy charges in November 2016. Prosecutors said he took bribes from Peter Galbraith Kelly, an executive at the energy company Competitive Power Ventures, and from Steven Aiello and Joseph Gerardi, founders of the real estate company Cor Development.

The three executives were on trial alongside Percoco. Aiello was found guilty on Tuesday of one count of conspiracy, while Gerardi was acquitted of all charges, Dawn Dearden, a spokeswoman for the prosecutors, said. The jury said it was deadlocked on charges against Kelly. Lawyers for Aiello, Gerardi and Kelly could not immediately be reached.

RELATED: A look at Andrew Cuomo

9 PHOTOS
Andrew Cuomo
See Gallery
Andrew Cuomo
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and girlfriend Sandra Lee look on as Pope Francis tours Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem in New York, September 25, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo waves as he arrives to speak on the fourth and final night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (2nd R) gestures to the crowd as she takes part in the Memorial Day parade with former U.S. President Bill Clinton (L) and New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo (R) in Chappaqua, New York, U.S. May 30, 2016. REUTERS/Adrees Latif TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (L) shakes hands with James Dolan, Executive Chairman of The Madison Square Garden Company following a press conference to announce major transportation initiatives in the Manhattan borough of New York, January 6, 2016. Cuomo promised the "largest investment in upstate New York in history, period" promising a $22 billion investment in bridges and roads as he aims to reverse years of decline in the rustbelt north of New York City. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden appears with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on the stage at an event to discuss the economy at the Javitz Convention Center in New York, September 10, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a "Raise the Wage" rally in New York May 7, 2015. Governor Cuomo said on Wednesday he would create a so-called Wage Board, a move apparently designed to allow him to raise the minimum wage without the approval of state lawmakers. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (L) and Archbishop of Havana Cardinal Jaime Ortega shake hands in Havana April 20, 2015. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo met senior Cuban officials in Havana on Monday as the head of a high-powered business delegation looking to take advantage of President Barack Obama's easing of restrictions with the Communist-led island. Cuomo, a Democrat, is the first governor to visit Cuba since a December announcement by Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro that they would restore diplomatic relations and work to normalize trade and travel ties after more than a half century of hostility and confrontation. REUTERS/Enrique de la Osa
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stands with his mother Matilda and other members of his family as he watches the casket of his late father, former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, being carried into St. Ignatius Loyola Church for funeral service in the Manhattan borough of New York, January 6, 2015. Mario Cuomo, the three-time governor of New York and a leading voice of the Democratic Party's liberal wing who turned down several invitations to seek the U.S. presidency, died on January 1 at his home in Manhattan. He was 82. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS OBITUARY)
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and his partner Sandra Lee depart the wake for slain New York Police Department officer Wenjian Liu in the Brooklyn borough of New York January 3, 2015. Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40, were shot to death on December 20 as they sat in their squad car in Brooklyn. Their killer, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who killed himself soon after, had said he was seeking to avenge the deaths this summer of two unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers REUTERS/Carlo Allegri (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY CIVIL UNREST CRIME LAW)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Prosecutors have said that Kelly bribed Percoco by giving his wife, Lisa Percoco, a mostly no-show job that paid $90,000 a year for three years in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to win favorable treatment from state officials for two power plant projects.

They said Aiello and Gerardi paid cash bribes through shell companies to get favorable treatment for development of a parking lot.

The nearly six-week trial took an unexpected turn in early February when the prosecutors' star witness, former Cuomo aide Todd Howe, was arrested after admitting on the witness stand that he had violated his cooperation agreement.

Aiello and Gerardi are expected to face a second trial on separate charges that they took part in a bid-rigging scheme involving a billion-dollar development project in Buffalo, New York.

The case is one of a series of high-profile corruption prosecutions launched by former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, and former state Senate leader Dean Skelos, a Republican, were both convicted of taking bribes in 2015, but their convictions were overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.

Prosecutors have said they plan to try both men again. (Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York Editing by Susan Thomas)

Read Full Story