Two of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s former aides are facing federal corruption charges, specifically dealing with bribery and fraud. The New York Times reported U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the charges against advisors Joseph Percoco, Todd Howe, and state official Alain Kaloyeros, are part of an investigation that sought to find out if the Cuomo administration was luring businesses to upstate New York, with kickbacks, to help that part of the state’s fledging economy.
Percoco, who was known as Cuomo’s “enforcer,” is also accused of a bribing scheme for trying to get a job for his wife with an energy company, Competitive Power Ventures. Gothamist reported his wife would only work a few hours a month and still received kickbacks. In an odd twist, Percoco used the codeword “ziti” with the company as a way to covertly say money, because it was used on The Sopranos. The New York Times reports that Howe has been cooperating with the investigation.
Percoco is accused of taking bribes upwards of $315,000 between 2012 and 2016. He had left his post at the state government’s office in January, and Cuomo contends he wasn’t aware of the arrangements Percoco made. But Cuomo said if he did them while working in the private sector, it was fine:
“I knew he might be accepting consulting arrangements with other companies but beyond that [he didn’t know]. When you leave state government you can work in the private sector and represent private sector companies. Yes, that’s totally allowable.”
The New York Times reported when these initial claims came to light in April, the Cuomo administration launched its own investigation. Results of that inquiry have yet to be revealed.