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politics

Lawyer For Ex-Cuomo Aide From Hudson Valley Attacks Star Witness

Todd Howe, left, and Joseph Percoco on a 2010 fishing trip. Howe is the government's star witness in Percoco's corruption trial.
Todd Howe, left, and Joseph Percoco on a 2010 fishing trip. Howe is the government's star witness in Percoco's corruption trial. Photo Credit: U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Defense attorneys for Joseph Percoco, a Westchester resident and former top aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, tore into the prosecution’s key witness during cross-examination on Wednesday.

Last year, Percoco, a South Salem resident, was indicted on corruption charges that allege he accepted more than $300,000 in bribes to benefit Competitive Power Ventures, an energy company that sought to build a power plant in the Hudson Valley, and COR Development, a real estate developer that received several sizable state projects.

The bribes from both, which also included $90,000 a year payments to Percoco's wife, were arranged by Todd Howe, another former aide, infamous lobbyist and close friend of Cuomo, according to court papers.

Howe made a “Sopranos” reference in regards to Percoco while on the stand earlier this week. On Wednesday, Percoco’s defense team took it to him during the cross-examination, according to multiple reports.

The attorneys got straight to the point, asking Howe point-blank, “Are you an honest person?” to which the lobbyist replied, “I am today.”

According to multiple media reports, the defense team repeatedly attacked Howe’s credibility, showcasing how the lobbyist embezzled money, lost a near million dollar home for failing to make mortgage payments and has led schemes to defraud friends, co-workers, employees and family members during the past two decades.

Howe alleges he had a "come to Jesus" moment.

Prosecutors claim that at “on at least three occasions, between 2011 and 2016, while employed as the Executive Deputy Secretary to the Governor, and on at least two occasions during his employment by the Cuomo Campaign, Percoco threatened at least four New York State employees who were considering leaving their current jobs or state service entirely, by claiming that Percoco would use his extensive influence in New York State to prevent them from finding future employment,” according to court documents.

In a letter filed in court, it is further alleged that Percoco received approximately $27,000 from Clough Harbor and Associates, a client of Howe and significant donor to Cuomo, in exchange for setting up meetings, sending emails and taking other actions on behalf of the company. Percoco left state government in January 2016.

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