The trial put a harsh spotlight on the attempts of several private companies to gain influence with the Cuomo administration. Jurors who deliberated off and on for three weeks acquitted Percoco of two extortion counts and one of the bribery charges he had faced. The other two defendants, Cor Development executives Steven Aiello and Joseph Gerardi, were separately accused of paying Percoco $35,000 in bribes.
Even before the verdicts were announced, good government groups were using the revelations from the trial to press for ethics reforms that have so far eluded Cuomo, who was elected governor in 2010 on a promise to renew trust in state government.
According to multiple reports from the Manhattan courtroom, Caproni told the jurors that they could reach a verdict on some of the 10 counts in the case and keep deliberating on others, or return a verdict on some of the counts and remain deadlocked on others. In closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Zhou did not apologize for Howe.
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Percoco thanked his family for standing by him.
"Percoco sold out his vast power, he sold out his influence and he betrayed the people of NY", a prosecutor, David Zhou, said in his closing arguments.
Using Howe's testimony and an extensive record of emails, prosecutors showed Percoco's increasingly urgent pleas to Howe - another longtime confidant of the Cuomos - for "ziti", a term for cash payments that Percoco borrowed from HBO's mafia drama "The Sopranos".
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Defense lawyers said the payments were legitimate fees for consulting work performed when Percoco was out of state government.
While Cuomo himself was not accused of wrongdoing, testimony also painted an unflattering picture of the inner workings of his office. The Syracuse men allegedly paid $35,000 for Percoco to help cut red tape on state-funded projects, and push a raise for Aiello's son, who worked for Cuomo.
Cuomo has repeatedly declined to weigh in on the trial, saying he wanted to let the legal process play out. More than 30 state lawmakers alone have left office facing allegations of misconduct since 2000. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, and former state Senate leader Dean Skelos, a Republican, were both convicted of taking bribes in 2015, but their convictions were overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.
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Howe's credibility was the centerpiece of the case, as defense lawyers challenged the credibility of a witness who admitted that he had been a chronic deadbeat for much of his life who cheated countless creditors, embezzled almost $1 million from his law firm, and had also been convicted of bank theft for kiting a check. Howe, who pleaded guilty to numerous crimes after cooperating with prosecutors, became a focus of the trial when he admitted violating his deal with prosecutors by improperly trying to recover the cost of a night at a luxury Manhattan hotel from a credit card company.