Wednesday, August 8, 2018

CNBC New York GOP Rep. Chris Collins pleads not guilty to insider trading

GOP Rep. Chris Collins' insider trading arrest puts a deep-red seat on the House battlefield

L-R  Assistant US Attorney Robert Allen, defense attorney Jonathan Barr, Christopher Collins, defense attorney Rebecca Ricigliano, Cameron Collins, Stephen Zarsky, defense attorney Amanda Bassen, Artwork by Elizabeth Williams 
CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO SEE LARGER

  • GOP Rep. Chris Collins' arrest on insider trading charges makes his deep-red New York district more competitive in November's House elections.
  • Supporters of his Democratic opponent, Nate McMurray, have already started to raise money on Collins' indictment.
  • Republican Rep. Chris Collins' arrest and indictment on insider trading charges Wednesday suddenly makes his safe red congressional district a lot more interesting in November's midterm elections.
    The New York 27th District, lodged between Buffalo and Rochester in the western part of the state, has grown more Republican since Collins first won it narrowly in 2012. The area backed President Donald Trump by nearly 25 percentage points in 2016, while Collins breezed to re-election with about 67 percent of the vote.
    The stain of the insider trading accusations quickly makes the district more competitive — although it still favors Republicans. Regardless, the GOP cannot afford another contested seat in the state as it fights to stop Democrats from winning the 23 Republican-held seats the party needs to take a House majority.
    Nonpartisan election analysis sites Cook Political Report and Sabato's Crystal Ball moved their ratings for the district to "likely" Republican from "solid" "safe" Republican, respectively, on Wednesday. A scandal can cause a 10- to 12-percentage-point swing and Collins' arrest is "perhaps on the more severe side," tweeted Nate Silver, data guru and editor in chief of analytics site FiveThirtyEight.
  • Story Link

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Harvey Weinstein pleads not guilty to rape charges NBC NEWS

Disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning to rape and criminal sex act charges.

Wearing a navy suit, Weinstein appeared before a Manhattan judge after a grand jury last week charged him with raping a woman in a hotel in 2013 and forcing another to perform oral sex on him after a meeting in his office in 2004
click on the images to see larger 
Weinstein said little other than "yes" when asked questions by State Supreme Court Justice James Burke.
His attorney, Benjamin Brafman, said the fallen mogul intends "to vigorously defend his case."
During the hearing, Brafman also apologized to the court for his repeated use of the phrase "casting couch" in speaking to the media and promised to "never use it again."
Last month, after Weinstein's arraignment last month, Brafman told reporters, "Mr. Weinstein did not invent the casting couch in Hollywood," adding that “bad behavior is not on trial in this case.”
Story link: 
https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/sexual-misconduct/harvey-weinstein-pleads-not-guilty-rape-charges-n880161
Judge James Burke presiding over the Weinstein case


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Harvey Weinstein in May after his arrest and perp walk in Manhattan Criminal Court felony arraignment part surrounded by NYS Court Officers and NYPD Detectives 
Artwork by Elizabeth Williams 

Monday, May 28, 2018

Former TOB Supervisor Venditto cleared of all corruption charges

Former TOB Supervisor Venditto cleared of all corruption charges

Jury ‘deadlocked’ on verdict for Ed, Linda Mangano

Former Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto was found not guilty of all corruption-related charges against him on Thursday, according to numerous published reports, after a jury deliberated for five days.
The jury remained deadlocked, according to court officials, on the charges against former Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and his wife, Linda.“I think the jury has spoken, and they came out with the proper verdict,” said Mike Rich, 69, a lifelong Oyster Bay resident. “We try cases in court, not public opinion. I think coverage by [some media] was slanted, especially when they repeated the charges every day. I’m very proud of my town.”
Mangano and Venditto were both facing multiple charges of bribery and corruption, and restaurateur Harendra Singh, who has pleaded guilty to bribing the former officials in exchange for help for his struggling businesses, was the government’s key witness.

John Venditto Verdict and Closing statements by Aggie Whelan Kenny



Marc Agnifilo closing statements: Atty Marc Agnifilo addressing jury,  Back of Atty Michael Keating, John Venditto, Linda Mangano, Edward Mangano
John Venditto’s defense
Marc Agnifilo, Venditto’s attorney, attacked Singh’s character. “Harendra Singh is selfish, remarkably self-important, and has grand plans … .” he said. “He’s not happy with where he is. He needs more. He needs to be more — to be somewhere else.”
He portrayed Venditto as “self-contained and happy” — already having all he could want or need. He said even Singh complimented Venditto at one point, calling him “a humble man.”
Agnifilo went on to say, “Singh uses love and closeness to get what he wants, and then he tells us it’s all a lie.”
Agnifilo said Venditto saw Singh as good for Oyster Bay back in 2010. The restaurateur had been a town concessionaire for 10 years, and had made capital improvements to the town buildings that he leased with his own money.
Agnifilo said Venditto didn’t know that Singh was in a corrupt relationship with former deputy town attorney Frederick Mei, who also testified last month in the trial as per a cooperation agreement. Agnifilo said Mei admitted under oath that he forged a document to make it look as though Venditto had signed a loan agreement on Singh’s behalf. Mei also admitted to forging a lease to get an earlier loan for Singh from Habib Bank, without Venditto’s knowledge.
Agnifilo likened Mei and Singh to Bonny and Clyde. “They found each other to commit crimes,” he said.
John Venditto not guilty verdict:  Jury foreman reading not guilty verdicts, court deputy right, Judge Joan Azrack, foreground l-r US attorneys, Lara Treinis Gatz, RaymondTierney,Middle ground l-r, Atty Marc Agnifilo, John Venditto, Edward Mangano, Linda Mangano

More
http://liherald.com/stories/former-tob-supervisor-venditto-cleared-of-all-corruption-charges,103525

Thursday, May 3, 2018

REUTERS Four found guilty in insider trading case linked to U.S. health agency

Four found guilty in insider trading case linked to U.S. health agency


https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-crime-healthcare/four-found-guilty-in-insider-trading-case-linked-to-u-s-health-agency-idUSKBN1I42P4
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two partners at the hedge fund Deerfield Management and two others were found guilty on Thursday of charges stemming from what prosecutors have described as an insider trading scheme based on leaks from within a federal healthcare agency.

Assistant US Attorney Joshua Naftalis presents case to jury

Rob Olan and Ted Huber, partners at Deerfield Management who are on leave, were convicted of counts including wire fraud, securities fraud and conversion of government property, as was David Blaszczak, founder of political consulting firm Precipio Health Strategies.
Christopher Worrall, who worked for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), was also convicted of wire fraud and conversion of government property, but acquitted of securities fraud. The verdict was handed down by a jury in Manhattan federal court after nearly four days of deliberations, following a four-week trial.
Ted Huber defense attorney,  Barry Berke presents defense case to jury.
Lawyers for Huber and Worrall had no immediate comment. Lawyers for Olan and Blaszczak could not immediately be reached. A Deerfield spokesman declined to comment.





This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brooke Cucinella, Ian McGinley, and Joshua A. Naftalis are in charge of the prosecution.   

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

NBC: 'Smallville' actress Allison Mack freed to parents on $5 million bond


'Smallville' actress Allison Mack freed to parents on $5 million bond

A federal judge agreed on Tuesday to release "Smallville" actress Allison Mack to the custody of her parents in California, setting a $5 million bond.
Mack, 35, pleaded not guilty on Friday to recruiting women to join a secret organization, called Nxivm, that prosecutors say treated them as “slaves,” providing sexual and financial services for the group’s leaders. She is charged with sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, and conspiracy to commit forced labor.
Judge Viktor Pohorelsky of U.S. District Court in Brooklyn said Mack would be allowed to travel only for court appearances, attorney meetings and other approved reasons. She is prohibited from using cellular services or the internet while she is at her parents’ home, and will be electronically monitored.
Allison Mack during bail hearing, with her mother signing the 5 million dollar bond. 
In an undated statement posted by the group on its website, Nxivm denies the accusations.
“In response to the allegations against our founder, Keith Raniere, we are currently working with the authorities to demonstrate his innocence and true character,” read the statement. “We strongly believe the justice system will prevail in bringing the truth to light.”
Some of Mack's old tweets from 2013 and 2016 show her attempts to contact and potentially even recruit celebrities like actress Emma Watson and singer Kelly Clarkson into Nxivm.

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.

Read More..
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-robert-durst-20180419-story.html

Thursday, April 19, 2018

NEWSDAY Power on Trial: Sinnreich spars with Keating



By Joye Brownjoye.brown@newsday.com

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

link
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/16/trump-lawyer-michael-cohen-in-court-with-porn-star-stormy-daniels.html
  • 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

SYRACUSE.COM 

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

http://www.syracuse.com/state/index.ssf/2018/03/acquitted_cor_executives_attorney_cant_even_try_to_interpret_verdict.html

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 them...you 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