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Jurors in a Manhattan federal court will start hearing testimony next week on charges of bribery and corruption against a former top aide to the governor, two Syracuse business executives and an energy company official.
Observers around New York state and beyond will be watching prosecutors try to convict a top state official of extorting money or “ziti” as it was referred to in emails from company executives with business before the state. Attorney Preet Bharara promised the trial would pull back the curtains to reveal the seamy side of state government.
“I really do hope that there is a trial in this case, so that all New Yorkers can see, in gory detail, what their state government has been up to,” Bharara said in September 2016, when he unveiled the charges.
Star witness Todd Howe is a disgraced former lobbyist with longstanding ties to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Cuomo former aide, Joseph Percoco. Howe, who already pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing, will provide the key testimony against Percoco and three other men on trial.
Howe is expected to testify about his efforts to help Percoco collect what they called bribes,
according to prosecutors from the other defendants.
All the defendants have adamantly denied the charges and are likely to attack Howe credibility.
Joseph Percoco, the central defendant, is the former executive deputy secretary to Cuomo. He is accused of extorting bribes from the other defendants in return for Percoco help with state government matters.
Steven Aiello and Joseph Gerardi, principals in Fayetteville based Cor Development Co., are accused of paying Percoco $35,000, funneled through Howe and Percoco wife. They also are charged with lying to the feds by denying they paid Percoco.
Peter Galbraith Kelly Jr. is accused of bribing Percoco, too. Kelly, a former energy company executive, is accused of providing Percoco with $287,
000 by giving a low show job to Percoco wife.