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Ex-Cuomo advisers, others charged in NY corruption cases

Ex-Cuomo advisers, others charged in NY corruption cases

Two former close aides to Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York have been hit with federal corruption charges involving alleged bribery, corruption and fraud, The New York Times reports.

Joseph Percoco, Cuomo's former executive deputy secretary and one of his most loyal advisers, and Todd Howe, a longtime family confidante, were among the nine people named in the complaint which was filed in USA federal court in Manhattan, according to the New York Post.

According to the indictment, between 2012 and 2016, two companies, Competitive Power Ventures and COR Development, funneled $315,000 to Percoco through a third party, looking to win $100 million in state funding for Competitive Power Ventures and a reversal of a costly decision by the state's economic development corporation for COR Development.

In e-mails and other correspondence, Percoco referred to the bribes as "ziti", according to the complaint.

Howe in turn sought bribes and gratuity payments from a Syracuse real estate developer involved in the other scheme and a Buffalo-based developer, the complaint said.

Percoco also worked for Mario Cuomo. Percoco apparently used the name "Herb" while discussing the arrangements.

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Howe's lawyer, Richard Morvillo, didn't immediately reply to phone and e-mail messages seeking comment. Kaloyeros wasn't available for comment.

At a Manhattan news conference Thursday announcing the results of his investigation, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara noted that Cuomo has not been implicated. "So he is inextricably tied to this, so to say that he didn't know what was going on, well, he was either asleep at the switch or allowing it to go on, but I think that it's indisputable at this point that the Cuomo administration is corrupt", says Republican political strategist Jessica Proud.

The charges stem from state-funded projects incubated by the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute, created to take advantage of Cuomo's $1 billion program to revitalize the economy of Buffalo, New York. In the Buffalo Billion-related scheme, prosecutors said Howe received bribes from Syracuse's COR Development Co, run by Steven Aiello and Joseph Gerardi, and Buffalo's LPCiminelli, run by Louis Ciminelli, Michael Laipple and Kevin Schuler. The charges, which federal prosecutors will formally announce later Thursday, stem from an investigation into the "Buffalo Billion" - one of the governor's key programs meant to draw businesses to upstate NY to revive the flagging economy. COR was a major donor to Cuomo, giving his campaign $500,000 this year, and more than $300,000 since he became governor in 2010. Prosecutors allege that Ciminelli conspired with Kaloyeros and executives at COR to rig project bidding to ensure Ciminelli and COR won lucrative state contracts.

The announcement was made in conjunction with Distracted Driving Awareness Month and Operation Hang Up, a high-visibility distracted driving crackdown coordinated by the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee and carried out by the New York State Police and local law enforcement, which runs from April 8 to April 13.

According to the New York Times, Cuomo was "blindsided" by the news.

"Everybody has focused on Cuomo from the very beginning because it was all rolling uphill", Caputo said.


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