Friday, April 20, 2018

LA TIMES: In recorded jail call, Robert Durst tells friend he regrets doing 'The Jinx'

Robert Durst tells friend he regrets doing 'The Jinx'

Artwork by Bill Robles
Robert Durst listening to recordings at pre trial hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court. In a jail call recorded in 2015, Robert Durst told a friend he regretted giving interviews to the producers of  " The Jinx" saying he realized while watching the siz part HBO documentary that he "definitely had a problem"

The New York real estate scion was arrested in connection with the slaying of his best friend Susan Berman on March 14, 2015 — the day before the finale of "The Jinx," which focuses on his tangled life.
Prosecutors have said they feared Durst, who was arrested at a New Orleans hotel in possession of guns, cash, a fake ID and a mask, might flee after realizing the "damning evidence" in the documentary.
Prosecutors contend Berman, whose body was found on Christmas Eve in 2000, was killed to prevent her from providing incriminating information about Durst's involvement in the 1982 disappearance of his wife, Kathleen, a case that remains unsolved. Durst, 75, has denied killing either woman.

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

NEWSDAY Power on Trial: Sinnreich spars with Keating

By Joye

Nobody asked

Jonathan Sinnreich, Oyster Bay’s outside legal counsel, and Kevin Keating, defense attorney for Edward Mangano, Nassau’s former county executive, spent much of Thursday morning engaged in a verbal tennis match.
Jonathan Sinnreich, Oyster Bay’s outside legal counsel, and Kevin Keating, defense attorney for Edward Mangano, Nassau’s former county executive, spent much of Thursday morning engaged in a verbal tennis match

Keating would ask whether Sinnreich agreed with the defense attorney’s characterization of — well, just about anything.
And Sinnreich would fire back, mostly with “no,” along with a detailed explanation of why Keating’s characterization of discussion during an April 28, 2010, meeting — how construction loans are structured, what he said or did not say to a grand jury or to federal investigations and on and on and on — was wrong.
At least twice, Sinnreich also disagreed with how his statements to federal prosecutors were stated in FBI notes.
At one point during the trial of Mangano, his wife, Linda, and former Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, Keating pressed Sinnreich on whether he mentioned in grand jury testimony that Mangano placed a hand on Singh’s shoulder during the 2010 meeting in the campaign headquarters of John Venditto, then-Oyster Bay’s town supervisor.
“I don’t think so, but I wasn’t asked a question that would have elicited that response,” Sinnreich replied.
Under cross-examination by Marc Agnifilo, Venditto’s lawyer, Sinnreich had high praise for Venditto.

Smart man

Under cross-examination by Marc Agnifilo, Venditto’s lawyer, Sinnreich had high praise for Venditto.
“He is a very smart lawyer and a very smart man,” Sinnreich testified, noting that he has worked as the town’s outside legal counsel — and thus, with Venditto — for more than a decade.
Venditto, whose seat at the defense table is closest to the witness stand, didn’t react to the comments.
A few minutes later, Agnifilo asked about Frederick Mei, the town’s former deputy town attorney.
“I always experienced Mr. Mei as solicitous of Mr. Singh’s issues,” Sinnreich testified.
Earlier, Mei testified that he received numerous bribes from Singh over the years, including cash payments, trips and the cost of a lease on a BMW.
On redirect examination from Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine M. Mirabile, Sinnreich, was asked whether Mei — as the town asserted early on after the Singh scandal broke — was a “rogue” employee.
“Oh, absolutely not,” Sinnreich replied.

Billing practice

At one point, Sinnreich testified, he was asked to put a Rivkin Radler legal bill on work related to the Singh loans through his law firm.
Sinnreich said he did so, as he has in the past for other professional services related to projects he worked on for the town. “They wanted me to do it, I did it,” he testified.
There is nothing illegal about such “pass through billing,” as it’s called.
And the mechanism often is used to speed payment. Still, it also makes seeking a formal town board action on the payment unnecessary, Mirabile pointed out.
“Correct,” Sinnreich answered.
The method also makes the bill unavailable to the public, Mirable went on.
Sinnreich disagreed.
“Bills go to the town comptroller,” he said. “I think it is available by the Freedom of Information Law.”
But the town’s record on complying with the law hasn’t been pristine, either. In 2016 Newsday sued and won to get access to documents covered by FOIL.
A New York State judge ordered Oyster Bay to provide materials, including records related to Singh’s concession agreements with the town, that Newsday had requested under FOIL in 2014.

Just say yes

Sinnreich, under questioning by Mirabile, testified that he was pretty much out of continued discussions about how to have the town legally back loans for former restaurateur Harendra Singh — after he continued to oppose many proposed iterations of a deal.
During an April 28, 2010, meeting, Sinnreich testified, he laid out his concerns and had some back and forth with William Cornachio and William Savino, attorneys for Rivkin Radler, Edward Mangano’s former law firm.
By May, he testified, he was out of the loop.
“It had become obvious to me through the town’s silence that the town was looking for Rivkin Radler to say yes to the dress,” he told jurors Thursday.
He said he did not learn until much later that the town had amended Singh’s concessions to help him get loans.

Lawyer needed

Sinnreich testified that in 2015 Leonard Genova came to him after federal agents visited the then-town attorney’s home.
Genova, Sinnreich, testified, was upset.
And, he said, that Genova, who had just lost his wife to cancer and has two young children, asked the agents to return later.
He told Sinnreich that the agents had agreed to do so.
“I asked him if he had a lawyer,” Sinnreich testified. “I told Mr. Genova that he needed his own lawyer, that I couldn’t do it because I am not a criminal attorney.”
“I also told him the supe ought to have criminal lawyers,” Sinnreich testified, referring to Venditto

AP :Trump lawyer forced to reveal another client: Sean Hannity

Trump lawyer forced to reveal another client: Sean Hannity

A legal fight over what should happen to records the FBI seized from President Donald Trump's personal attorney took a surprise twist Monday when the lawyer, Michael Cohen, was forced to reveal in court that he had also secretly done legal work for Fox News host Sean Hannity.
The disclosure came as Cohen's attorneys tried to persuade a federal judge in New York to delay prosecutors from examining records and electronic devices seized in the raids on the grounds that many of them are protected by attorney-client privilege.
U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood said in hearings Friday and again on Monday that if Cohen wanted the court to declare that the some of his files were protected because of attorney confidentiality rules, he would have to divulge the names of his clients.

In a court filing Monday, Cohen's attorneys said three people received legal help from Cohen in 2017 and 2018, after Trump became president.
One was Trump himself. Another was Elliot Broidy, a Trump fundraiser who resigned from the Republican National Committee on Friday after it was revealed that he paid $1.6 million to a Playboy Playmate with whom he had an extramarital affair. The Playmate became pregnant and elected to have an abortion.
But they initially declined to reveal the name of the third client.
The third legal client directed Mr. Cohen not to reveal the identity publicly, Cohen's lawyers, Todd Harrison and Stephen Ryan, wrote....
Stephen Ryan, Michael Cohen's attorney disclosing Sean Hannity's name after Judge Wood demands he reveal the name. Stormy Daniels seated in the audience .
Artwork by Elizabeth Williams 

 "It almost goes without saying, unfortunately, that none of Mr. Cohen's clients want to be associated with the government raid on his home and law office, or want to be affiliated in any way with the proceedings here and the attendant media coverage."
Wood, though, demanded the name.
"I understand he doesn't want his name out there, but that's not enough under the law," she said.
An email sent to Fox News seeking comment from Hannity was not immediately returned.

Story Link

Monday, April 16, 2018

CNBC: Trump lawyer Michael Cohen appears in court with porn star Stormy Daniels watching

Trump lawyer Michael Cohen appears in court with porn star Stormy Daniels watching 

Dan Mangan

  • President Donald Trump's longtime lawyer Michael Cohen appeared in federal court Monday on a request to protect files of his seized by the FBI.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, attended the Monday hearing alongside Michael Avenatti, her lawyer in a pending suit against Trump and Cohen seeking to void her hush deal. Michael Cohen seated at table next to his attorney . Artwork by Elizabeth Williams
  • Porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims she had a sexual encounter with Trump, also attended the hearing.
  • Trump has raged about the raids on Cohen's files, in which FBI agents seized documents related to a payout to Daniels in exchange for her silence about the purported affair.

Michael Cohen, longtime personal attorney for President Donald Trump, on Monday showed up at U.S. District Court in lower Manhattan after skipping an initial Friday hearing.
Cohen is asking Judge Kimba Wood to bar prosecutors from getting the first look at client files seized from him by the FBI last week. A lawyer for the president, Joanna Hendon, on Sunday filed a motion asking the judge to grant the president the privilege of reviewing the documents first.
The hearings follow the April 9 raids, in which federal agents seized materials from Cohen's office, home, hotel room and electronic devices.
Both Cohen and Trump argue that they should be allowed to decide which of the documents should be permanently withheld because they are protected by attorney-client privilege.
U.S. attorneys pushed back against Cohen's request in a filing Friday, saying that "Cohen is in fact performing little to no legal work," and alleging that "zero" emails were exchanged between Cohen and Trump. Their assessment was based on already conducted searches of Cohen's email accounts which had not been reported before the court filing.
In a Monday court filing, lawyers for Cohen said that he represented three clients between 2017 and 2018, but refused to identify one of them. The anonymous client had told Cohen not to disclose his name, his lawyers said, partly because it would likely "be embarrassing or detrimental" to him.

 The other two clients are Trump and Elliott Broidy, a former deputy finance chairman for the Republican National Committee who resigned following reports that he had impregnated a Playboy model in an extramarital affair.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, attended the Monday hearing alongside Michael Avenatti, her lawyer in a pending suit against Trump and Cohen seeking to void her hush deal.

Investigators also searched for documents relating to the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape in which Trump boasts about sexual harassment, as well as communications between Trump and Cohen about the tape.
And the agents reportedly sought documents in Cohen's possession related to payments made to another woman who claims she had an affair with Trump: Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Buffalo News: Talk about 'ziti' in Percoco trial rebutted by attacks on star witness

Talk about 'ziti' in Percoco trial rebutted by attacks on star witness

NEW YORK – In the end, prosecutors in the Joseph Percoco trial wanted to talk about ziti – the code term the longtime confidant of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo used to allegedly describe the bribe money he got over the years.
But pasta wasn't on the minds of defense lawyers.
They spent their afternoon Tuesday in closing arguments on hours of attempts to discredit the prosecution’s star witness – former lobbyist Todd Howe, whose credibility was called into question even before he was arrested during the middle of his testimony a few weeks ago.
One defense lawyer, Stephen Coffey, even mocked Howe’s claim that he had a revelatory moment about telling the truth to prosecutors in 2016 as they were in the midst of their high-profile corruption investigation that has unearthed insights about Albany and state government.
“Todd Howe is going to come to Jesus,’’ Coffey said, as he then prepared to predict what Jesus Christ was going to someday say to Howe.       Artwork by Aggie Whelan Kenny
“Sustained,’’ U.S. District Court Judge Valerie E. Caproni said as she cut off Coffey, when prosecutors objected.
Six weeks into the trial of Percoco and three executives accused of allegedly bribing the former Cuomo adviser in exchange for government favors, prosecutors and defense lawyers spent all day Tuesday giving closing arguments to a case that could have sweeping implications for its sister case – the Buffalo Billion trial expected to start in June in the same courtroom.
The summations will continue Wednesday and the jury is expected to get the case possibly on Thursday.
Within seconds of opening his summation to the jury in a Manhattan federal courtroom, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Zhou quoted from a Percoco email: “Where the hell is the ziti?”
It was a reference – borrowed, as noted several times in the trial, from "The Sopranos" TV show – to more than $300,000 in payments allegedly steered Percoco's way from a Syracuse development firm and an energy company with a power plant interest before the state.
“This is not how honest and honorable public servants talk. This is how criminals talk,’’ Zhou told jurors in his nearly three-hour summation.
The trial ended with a split verdict on March 13th. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Percoco Verdict: Acquitted Cor executive's attorney 'can't even try to interpret' verdict


Acquitted Cor executive's attorney 'can't even try to interpret' verdict

NEW YORK CITY - The attorney for Cor executive Joseph Gerardi said he is unable to reconcile the mixed verdict rendered in the New York corruption case against a top Cuomo aide and two Syracuse businessmen.
Milton Williams Joseph Gerardi's attorney gives closing statement. Artwork by Aggie Whelan Kenny 

Gerardi was acquitted while his business partner Steven Aiello was convicted of conspiring to commit honest services fraud. Joseph Percoco, a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, was convicted of three of six charges.
A mistrial was declared for Braith Kelly on charges that he provided a low-show job to Percoco's wife.
"I honestly don't know," Gerardi's attorney Milt Williams said of the verdict. "I can't even try to interpret it."
Aiello's attorney Steve Coffey said he planned to appeal, calling the verdict inconsistent.
Aiello's cheeks reddened as the guilty verdict was read.
His son, Steven Aiello Jr. put his head down and held it with one hand. He nodded back and forth. His father was accused of bribing Percoco to arrange a raise for the son while he was employed in Cuomo's office.
Aiello's and Gerardi's wives cried after the verdict was read. Aiello's daughter also cried.
"Their families are very close," Williams said.
"It's awful,'' Williams said. "I'm very relieved for Joe Gerardi. I feel very bad for Steve Aiello and his family."

BREAKING: LAW 360 Jury Convicts Ex-Cuomo Aide After Bribery Trial

A Manhattan jury on Tuesday convicted Joe Percoco, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's former “right-hand man” in the state capital of Albany, capping a marathon federal bribery trial that was punctuated by the arrest of the government's star witness.

LOHUD: Joe Percoco, Andrew Cuomo's ex-aide, guilty of 3 felonies in bribery case
link below
Percoco jury by Aggie Whelan Kenny

Monday, March 5, 2018

NPR Percoco jury deadlocked; judge orders another try

The jury is deadlocked in the federal corruption trial of Joseph Percoco, former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Judge Valerie Caproni told them to go back and resume deliberations.
The jurors in the bribery trial of Percoco and three other defendants, now in its seventh week, told the Judge Caproni Tuesday that they are deadlocked, and that the only thing they can agree on is that they disagree.
 “We have some very fundamental differences and nobody wants to compromise our own beliefs and/or process,” one juror’s note reads.
With a second major winter storm in less than a week forecast for Wednesday, three jurors begged to quit, saying they were physically and emotionally drained and could no longer continue.
The jury has deliberated for about 20 hours since it was given the case on March 1st.
Gov. Cuomo has said he won’t comment on the trial until it’s over. He was asked about the deadlock during a storm briefing conference call. He said, “that will be a matter for the judge to handle.”

After Prosecutors' Final Rebuttal, Jury Deliberations Begin in Percoco Trial

March 02, 2018 

Jury deliberations began Thursday in the federal corruption trial of Joseph Percoco, a former top aide to Governor Andrew Cuomo, and three corporate executives who were allegedly involved in a criminal conspiracy to pay Percoco bribes in exchange for favorable official actions in their efforts to do business with the state government.
Barry Bohrer closing statement by Aggie Whelan Kenny 
In federal district court in lower Manhattan on Thursday morning, the prosecution offered its rebuttal to the defense’s closing arguments from the previous two days, capping a six-week long trial that has exposed the inner workings of the state government and put on display the actions and behavior of Percoco, whom Cuomo once referred to as “my father's third son.” The trial has raised questions about what Cuomo knew about Percoco’s activities, including his former top aide’s use of a government office while technically on leave to run Cuomo’s reelection campaign.
The charges against Percoco and his co-defendants -- Peter Galbraith Kelly, Joseph Gerardi and Steven Aiello -- stem from two separate bribery schemes tied together by the government’s key witness, former lobbyist Todd Howe, who pleaded guilty to facilitating payments totalling more than $300,000 from the executives to Percoco and his wife, Lisa Percoco.
Percoco and the others have been charged with ten felony counts of solicitation and payment of bribes and gratuities, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, extortion under the color of official right and conspiracy to commit extortion under the color of official right, wire fraud, and making false statements to federal investigators. (One extortion charge, related to actions Percoco took while he was working on the governor’s reelection campaign in 2014, was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni on Monday.)
One of the schemes involved real estate developer COR Development and it’s executives Gerardi and Aiello. The second involved energy firm Competitive Power Ventures and Kelly, who is accused of giving Percoco’s wife a “low-show” job paying $90,000 annually.
Defense attorney Daniel Gitner closing by Aggie Whelan Kenny
The defense largely based its case on attacking Howe’s credibility as a witness, claiming that he manipulated Percoco and the others into the schemes. Once he was caught for his own crimes, the defense attorneys claimed, he pointed fingers to try and reduce his prison sentence. That argument was bolstered in part when Howe was arrested during the trial for violating his cooperation agreement with the government.
Prosecutors, however, have pointed to other evidence, including thousands of emails, that they say shows the corrupt agreements struck between the defendants. Howe’s testimony formed only a part of their case, they claim, and was far from the foundation of the prosecution.
“Their best defense is to make you think it all comes down to Todd Howe,” said prosecutor Janis Echenberg, in the government’s rebuttal Thursday morning. “See the defense arguments for what they are. They are asking for a free pass. They’re saying ‘We dealt with a bad guy so we should get away with it.’”
“This whole fishing sideshow,” Echenberg told the jury, “You’re being played hook, line and sinker.”
“Even if there was a friendship between don’t get a pass on bribery just because you’re bribing a friend,” she added.
After Echenberg’s plea to the jury for a guilty verdict, Judge Caproni addressed the jury, reading through a 40-page booklet of all the charges against the defendants and instructing them to carefully consider their decision.
Later in the day, the jury sought clarification on whether Percoco had to have been a public official throughout the duration of the two schemes he is accused of participating in in order to be found guilty. The prosecution had argued that though Percoco left state government to work on the governor’s reelection campaign, he still wielded his influence within state government to pressure officials for favorable action towards his co-defendants. The defense, on the other hand, in the words of Percoco’s lawyer Barry Bohrer, said Percoco couldn’t possibly have been “selling his office” during the campaign since “he had no office to sell.”
Courtroom artwork by Aggie Whelan Kenny

Thursday, March 1, 2018

NY POST : Percoco lawyer: Don’t judge my client for using ‘Sopranos’ slang

Percoco lawyer: Don’t judge my client for using ‘Sopranos’ slang bruce golding 
Joseph Percoco’s lawyer broke out the ziti defense during closing arguments at his corruption trial Wednesday — urging jurors not to condemn the former top aide to Gov. Cuomo for using TV gangster slang.
“It’s not the language of criminals just because someone watches ‘The Sopranos’ and picks up phrases from ‘The Sopranos,’” defense lawyer Barry Bohrer said.
Bohrer also tried to blame tainted prosecution witness Todd Howe for Percoco’s use of the term “ziti,” saying: “You’ll find 16 ziti emails and the score is 14 to 2 — 14 instances when Todd Howe mentions the word and two in which Joe does.”“Millions of people would be in jumpsuits for having watched ‘The Sopranos’ and picked up language if that were the case.”

Prosecutors contend the pasta reference was code for the $300,000-plus in bribes Howe allegedly helped Percoco pocket in a “pay-to-play” scheme with two companies doing business with the state.

But Bohrer tried turning those allegations into a joke when he asked the judge to give jurors their lunch break five minutes early.
“I hate talking about ziti while they are waiting for lunch,” he said to laughter in the Manhattan federal courtroom. Judge Valerie Caproni denied the request and told Bohrer to continue as scheduled until 12:30 p.m.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

COURTHOUSE NEWS:Wrap-Up of NY Bribery Case Steeped in ‘Ziti’

Wrap-Up of NY Bribery Case Steeped in ‘Ziti’

Adam Klasfeld

MANHATTAN (CN) – Quoting an email that has put “Sopranos” lingo on the lips of every politician in Albany, a federal prosecutor told jurors Tuesday that the indicted former aide to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo mentioned ziti for a reason.
“This is how criminals talk,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney David Zhou, delivering his closing statement this morning in the trial of Joseph Percoco.
A former influential figure in the Cuomo political dynasty, Percoco faces decades in prison if convicted of a more than $300,000 bribery scheme. The government says Percoco traded favors on projects throughout New York to procure low-show work for his wife, and let his HBO viewing habits shine.
“Herb, where the hell is the ziti?” Percoco wrote in one email to a lobbyist whose real name is Todd Howe.
Percoco trial closing argument by Assistant US Atty David Zhou, Judge Valerie E. Caproni, far right, Joseph Percoco.  Beginning his summation with this line, Zhou went through Percoco’s various other mentions of ziti to demonstrate for the jury that there was more than pasta on the plate when Percoco wrote about exploiting his political connections for the benefit of energy company Competitive Power Ventures and real estate firm COR Development.

Howe is the government’s only cooperating witness, and defense attorneys for Percoco and his co-defendants have attacked the convicted former lobbyist’s credibility throughout trial.
An exceptionally shaky witness, even by the standards of government informants, Howe’s eight days of federal testimony was interrupted earlier this month when he was rearrested on charges that he committed a new offense to top off the eight federal crimes to which he already confessed.
“Ladies and gentleman, make no mistake,” said Milton Williams, who represents COR executive Joseph Gerardi. “The government’s case is heavily leveraged on Todd Howe.”
Zhou tried meanwhile to paint Howe’s sins as extraneous.
“They are trying to distract you from the clear evidence of guilt in this case,” the prosecutor told the New York jury.

Zhou noted that Howe may have had tagged along with Percoco into New York’s corridors of power, but that the case also rests on incriminating emails, financial records and other documents.
“You don’t need an insider view to convict these defendants,” Zhou said. “They convict themselves.”

Introduced as evidence in the bribery trial of Joseph Percoco, this prototype of a corporate logo for Competitive Power Venture was drawn by Percoco’s wife, Lisa Percoco, whom the energy company paid $90,000 a year. “A picture is worth a thousand words, and this one was worth thousands of dollars,” Assistant U.S. Attorney David Zhou told the jury on Feb. 27.
One of piece of evidence the government introduced is a pamphlet that Percoco’s wife, Lisa, made during her $90,000-a-year teaching job for a Competitive Power Ventures educational initiative.
Crunching the numbers, Zhou quipped that the jury put more time on the trial than Lisa Percoco put in on an average of three hours a month over the course of three years.
“Some pictures are worth a thousand words, but this one was worth thousands of dollars,” Zhou said, referring to a pamphlet bearing the energy company’s light-bulb logo. “This is a staggering amount of money for a piddling amount of work.”
Before summations began, Percoco caught a break when U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni dismissed an extortion charge against him on a technicality. The extortion statute applied only to holders of political office, and Percoco had been working on Cuomo’s political campaign during the time of the alleged defense.
Percoco and the three executives accused of bribing him now face a combined total of 10 remaining offenses.
Defense attorneys for four men will try to persuade the jury of their innocence as summations continue. The other attorneys left to make their case to the jury represent Percoco, former CPV executive Peter Galbraith Kelly and COR President Steven Aiello.

Artwork by Aggie Whelan Kenny

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

NY POST: Star witness in Ex-Cuomo aide trial: I’m in a ‘boatload of trouble’

Star witness in Ex-Cuomo aide trial: I’m in a ‘boatload of trouble’

The prosecution’s star witness against a former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo admitted on the stand Tuesday that he himself is “in a boatload of trouble” following his arrest last week.
Ex-lobbyist Todd Howe returned to the witness stand in Manhattan federal court for the first time since he got locked up Thursday night — and was immediately questioned by a defense lawyer about getting nabbed in his hotel room by the feds.
Howe told jurors he spent the weekend in jail and woke up there Tuesday morning, but that it was “uncertain” how long he’d have to remain behind bars.

When asked why he got busted, Howe ( pictured on statnd)  said: “It was my understanding that the government thought I might have ​broken my bail agreement.”
Under cross-examination by defense lawyer Daniel Gitner (pictured) — whose previous questioning led to his incarceration — Howe also tried to walk back his admission that he lied to his credit-card company to avoid paying for a $600 stay at the Waldorf Astoria hotel.
Howe racked up the bill while visiting New York City in 2016 to meet with the feds and hammer out his cooperation deal.
“I didn’t remember in October where I​ had stayed and what I had done​, and I was disputing​. I wasn’t denying it,” he said.
Artwork by Aggie Whelan Kenny
“I had dozens of hotels​ and whatever​….I wasn’t denying that I stayed there, I was just disputing it because I wasn’t certain as to at that point, five months later, if I had or I hadn’t. I just didn’t recall.”
Gitner then asked Howe — who got special permission from the judge to trade his jail garb for a black suit, white shirt and light blue, patterned tie — “Do you agree with me today that you’re in more trouble ​today ​than you have​ ever​ been in your ​entire ​life?”
“​I believe ​I’m in a boatload of trouble, all together,” Howe answered.
During his two previous days of cross-examination, Howe was grilled about his admitted decades of lying, cheating and stealing, and he testified Tuesday that he repeatedly assured prosecutors he was a “changed” man.
“Every time I walked in the door, I was representing myself as being honest and truthful,” he said.
Howe claims to have helped execs at two companies doing business with the state funnel more than $300,000 in bribes to then-Cuomo aide Joseph Percoco.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

NY Law Journal: Star Witness in Bribery Trial Grilled on Finances, Legal Woes

UPDATE:Star witness in ex-Cuomo aide Joseph Percoco's bribery case arrested after admitting to fraud try in testimony
Star witness Todd Howe, on stand  Artwork by Aggie Whelan Kenny

Star Witness in Bribery Trial Grilled on Finances, Legal Woes

The star witness in the corruption trial for Joseph Percoco, a former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo accused of taking part in bribery schemes, was effectively placed on trial himself Thursday as defense attorneys for a second day tried to erode the witness’s credibility by focusing on his past legal and financial misadventures.
Percoco, who was close enough to the Cuomo family that Gov. Mario Cuomo, Andrew Cuomo’s father, once referred to Percoco as his “third son,” is accused of taking more than $315,000 in bribes from two firms seeking to do business with the state.
Prosecutors say executives from Competitive Power Ventures, who sought a power purchase agreement from the state for a new power plant in Orange County, bribed Percoco by giving his wife a “low-show” job as an education consultant that paid a $90,000 annual salary.
They also allege that executives from COR Development, which sought government contracts for projects in Syracuse, paid $35,000 in bribes to Percoco so that he could help navigate their projects through bureaucratic red tape.
Eight defendants were charged with participating in the schemes, who have been divided into two trial groups.
Percoco is standing trial alongside former CPV executive Peter Galbraith Kelly Jr. and former COR executives Steven Aiello and Joseph Gerardi.

But through Wednesday and Thursday, the defendants’ alleged crimes have been overshadowed by the past of star witness Todd Howe (pictured), a former lobbyist for Whiteman Osterman & Hanna who says he helped facilitate relationships between Percoco and the executives.
He pleaded guilty to eight felony counts as part of an agreement with the prosecution. Throughout the cross-examination, kicked off on Wednesday by Schulte Roth & Zabel partner Barry Bohrer, ( pictured) who represents Percoco, Howe has answered for his admissions that he embezzled money from Whiteman Osterman as well as a past criminal felony conviction for making a false bank deposit for $45,000.
Howe has also addressed a long line of lawsuits filed against him over the past decade by mortgage lenders, attorneys, home improvement contractors and even a tutor he hired for his son who all alleged that Howe failed to pay up when his bills were due.
On Thursday, after Bohrer concluded his examination, Daniel Gitner of Lankler Siffert & Wohl, who leads Kelly’s defense team, homed in on the Howe’s cooperation agreement with the prosecution brokered in 2016, specifically a provision requiring Howe to disclose past crimes. Gitner noted that Howe had admitted on the stand on Wednesday to lying in a deposition for one of his foreclosure cases about why he was fired from the Mortgage Bankers Association prior to his employment with Whiteman Osterman.
Gitner also revealed during the cross-examination that, apparently unbeknownst to prosecutors, Howe had submitted an application for disability insurance in 2014 in which he said he had never been convicted of a felony.
“The government is hearing about this for the first time now, correct?” Gitner said. Howe replied that he did indeed make a false statement on the application, but said he checked boxes on the application without “paying attention.”
During a break in which the jury was not in the courtroom, Gitner told U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni of the Southern District of New York that questions about Howe’s finances may take up another day of trial, which drew a rebuke from the judge.
“The jury is well aware that Mr. Howe was not a good guy,” Caproni said. “He was in deep financial trouble and has more garnishments than anyone should ever have. Why your clients got in bed with him is beyond me.”