Joseph Percoco

Peter Haskell/WCBS 880

Joseph Percoco Found Guilty On Some Charges In Corruption Trial

March 13, 2018 - 12:01 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Joseph Percoco, a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, was found guilty of three charges in his corruption trial.

Jurors in the case against the 48-year-old Percoco resumed deliberating twice after saying they were deadlocked. A judge told them Tuesday they could return a partial verdict.

He was convicted on one count of bribery and two counts of honest services fraud. He was acquitted of a second count of bribery and two counts of extortion.

Prosecutors allege Percoco received $320,000 from three businessmen in exchange for favors he could give them in his role as an aide to Cuomo. The payments were made to Percoco’s wife.

Email references to "ziti" were presented as evidence during the five-week trial. The expression comes from “The Sopranos” and is meant to indicate a payoff of some kind.

In one case, Percoco sent an email to get a raise for the son of one of the men accused of bribing him. On that count, he was found guilty.

The prosecutor argued that Percoco took payments for official action, but the defense claims that any and all payments were legitimate and any actions Percoco took were simply to help his friends.

The emails were interpreted by Todd Howe, the government’s star witness. The defense called Howe a pathological liar, and the witness all but admitted to the claim.

Percoco said he is innocent, and Cuomo is not accused of any wrongdoing.

When word came out that there was a verdict, Percoco stood with his hands clasped in front of him. He rocked from side to side, and he looked down right before the jury came in, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.

When the first verdict was not guilty, there was one person in the courtroom who clapped. The second verdict was also not guilty, but the mood changed when the jury found Percoco guilty on the next three consecutive counts.

“Hopes were raised we heard the ‘not guilty’ on the first two counts, and it was not to be,” said Percoco’s attorney, Barry Bohrer.

For his part, Percoco said little.

“I am disappointed, but as Barry says, we’re going to consider our options and move forward,” Percoco said.

Gov. Cuomo released a statement following the verdict, saying he respected the decision.

“While I am sad for Joe Percoco's young daughters who will have to deal with this pain, I echo the message of the verdict - there is no tolerance for any violation of the public trust,” Cuomo said in the statement.

He expressed disappointment with Percoco as someone who knew him well.  

"There is no higher calling than public service and integrity is paramount - principles that have guided my work during the last 40 years,” Cuomo said in the statement. “The verdict demonstrated that these ideals have been violated by someone I knew for a long time. That is personally painful; however, we must learn from what happened and put additional safeguards in place to secure the public trust. Anything less is unacceptable."

Percoco was one of four defendants in the case. One co-defendant was convicted, another was found not guilty and the jury was deadlocked on the last one.

Percoco will be sentenced in June.