A former top aide to Gov. Cuomo was convicted Tuesday of collecting $300,000 in cash bribes in a federal case focused on the culture of corruption in Albany.
Percoco, his face flushed and his demeanor dour, was found guilty by a deeply-divided jury that sent out surprising word of its verdict at 11:42 a.m. after twice announcing they were at an impasse.
Percoco was found guilty of “selling something priceless that was not to his sell — the sacred obligation to honestly and faithfully serve the citizens of New York,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman.
“As every schoolchild knows … government officials who sell their influence to select insiders violate the basic tenets of a democracy.”
Percoco, once described by the governor as his late father Mario’s third son, was convicted for solicitation of bribes and two other felony counts.
The jury deliberated roughly 40 hours since March 1 to reach its verdict. The decision came one day after the panel informed Manhattan Federal Judge Valerie Caproni they were again at a deadlock.
The jury’s change of heart was announced in a pithy morning note to the judge.
“Your Honor, we have reached a verdict,” read a note sent out Tuesday at 11:42 a.m. “Thanks!”
But the verdicts were hardly a clean sweep for prosecutors.
Only one of Percoco’s three co-defendants was convicted: Syracuse developer Steven Aiello. Fellow upstate businessman Joseph Girardi was cleared of three counts, and a mistrial was declared for energy executive Peter Galbraith Kelly.
The jury deadlocked on the two counts against Kelly. Neither Percoco nor any of his co-defendants testified in their own behalf.
Percoco, 48, was found guilty on two wire fraud counts and a single count of solicitation of bribes. One guilty verdict was linked to Percoco’s schoolteacher wife, Lisa, who was hired by Kelly to a $90,000-per-year low-show job.
He was acquitted on a pair of extortion counts and other charges of soliciting a bribe or gratuity.
The prosecution took a huge mid-case hit when star witness Todd Howe, a former lobbyist, was arrested after admitting that he tried to scam the Waldorf-Astoria over a $600 hotel bill.
Howe, after cutting a deal, detailed how he served as the middleman between Percoco and his co-defendants and provided much of the prosecution’s most damning testimony.
Howe recounted that he and Percoco, lifting a reference from the mob drama “The Sopranos,” used the word “ziti” to refer to bribe money.
Howe also described facilitating campaign donations from Kelly, Aiello and Gerardi to Cuomo.
Notes from the jury on Monday marked the second time the members said they couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict.
The first notice came last Tuesday, the same day three jurors cited work and childcare issues in asking to be dismissed.
Caproni, who instructed the jury both times to keep deliberating, told lawyers on the case that she would not instruct the jury to keep working a third time.
The trial was originally set to take four-to-six weeks but has dragged into its eighth week.
Testimony revealed that Percoco’s sketchy dealings reached the highest levels of state government — even after he departed public service to run Cuomo’s 2014 reelection bid from April to December of that year.
According to prosecutors, Percoco lined his pockets with kickbacks in two separate bribery schemes.
In one scheme, Kelly gave Percoco’s schoolteacher wife the job at his then-company, Competitive Power Ventures.
Percoco was then expected to help Kelly, 54, land a financing deal for a controversial Hudson Valley power plant worth some $100 million, prosecutors said.
Aiello, 59, and Gerardi, 58, were charged with heaping some $35,000 in bribes on Percoco in exchange for favors – such as landing a raise for Aiello’s son, a Cuomo staffer.