The federal governments star witness against Gov. Cuomos longtime confidante testified that he bribed the former top government aide and found a job for his wife that would pay a lot of ziti.
Former lobbyist Todd Howe testified that Cuomos close friend Joseph Percoco asked him if he could get his school teacher wife a job in 2012. Howe and Percoco were tight as well.
Howe told jurors He was probably the closest thing to a brother that I ever had.” So when Percoco asked him for help, “I did whatever I could to help him.”
He asked if there were any clients of mine that could possibly hire her to be a consultant or to teach in some capacity, Howe testified in Manhattan federal court Monday.
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Howe said he reached out to Peter Galbraith Kelly of Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) for assistance. The firm was seeking a power purchase agreement from the state.
Braith said he understood, and he wanted to be helpful, Howe testified.
My understanding was that (Kelly) wanted Joe to be an advocate, his eyes and ears in the governors office, Howe added.
The former lobbyist said that Percoco labeled the dollars Percocos wife would be paid as ziti a code word inspired by the Sopranos.
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Joe threw in this term ziti, which we used throughout the entire bribery scheme, Howe testified.
CPV established a bogus education platform for her to teach fourth-graders about power plants, according to prosecutors. But she was instructed to use only her first name in class and was kept out of pictures highlighting the program.
Prosecutors say Percoco took more than $300,000 in bribes from Howes clients who were seeking to curry favor with the Cuomo administration.
Howe, a former government lobbyist, once served as Cuomo’s deputy chief of staff when he was President Bill Clinton’s housing secretary.
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Hes pleaded guilty to eight felonies in connection with the bribery scheme, including extortion, wire fraud, bribery and conspiracies to commit honest services fraud in 2016.
I realized that I needed to stand up and accept responsibility for the crimes that I committed, and realized the best thing I could do for myself and my family was plead guilty, he testified Monday.
Percoco and three other men on trial contend that Howe is a liar looking for the best deal for himself.
Howe, who spent 30 years in government affairs, said he now lives in Idaho and works as a groundskeeper for a golf course in the area, “mowing the greens,” maintaining trees, and “digging ditches.”
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He said he regrets his role in the scheme.
“In retrospect, I never should have. But I did,” he testified. “I made mistakescaused all sorts of problems with my life.”