A federal prosecutor on Thursday accused two people close to Gov. Andrew Cuomo of bribery and fraud relating to Cuomo’s high-profile economic development projects in a significant blow to the Democratic governor’s administration.
Joseph Percoco, Cuomo’s former executive deputy secretary, and Alain Kaloyeros, president of SUNY Polytechnic Institute, are among nine who face charges, according to a criminal complaint by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. As the leader of SUNY Polytechnic, Kaloyeros was instrumental to Cuomo’s efforts to bring high-tech jobs to upstate New York.
Messages left with Cuomo’s office were not immediately returned. Percoco’s lawyer and Kaloyeros weren’t initially available for comment.
According to the federal complaint, Percoco took more than $315,000 in bribes from 2012 through 2016 to Syracuse-based COR Development and Competitive Power Ventures, an energy company with state business. Todd Howe, a consultant for the two companies and former Cuomo associate, set up bank accounts and a shell company to funnel bribes, including payments to Percoco’s wife, the complaint said.
Howe is now cooperating with federal authorities.
The document also names two executives at COR Development as well as Buffalo developer Louis Ciminelli, whose company LPCiminelli stood to make millions off Cuomo’s efforts to revitalize the upstate economy. Prosecutors allege that Ciminelli conspired with Kaloyeros and executives at COR to rig project bidding to ensure Ciminelli and COR won lucrative state contracts.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has scheduled a news conference at noon Thursday to discuss the case.
Cuomo’s office said in April that Bharara was examining possible undisclosed conflicts of interest and improper bidding related to the Cuomo’s efforts to attract high-tech jobs upstate. The administration also launched an internal review and Cuomo promised to “throw the book” at anyone found to be violating the law.
The federal probe revealed a web of individuals and businesses tied to Cuomo that stand to make millions from the projects.
Authorities say Percoco was retained by Competitive Power Ventures for his help “on an as-needed basis,” including a state contract estimated to be worth $100 million to help finance its power plant now under construction in Wayawanda in the Hudson Valley.
The company, based in Braintree, Massachusetts, didn’t immediately reply to queries Thursday.
Percoco was long known as one of Cuomo’s most loyal advisers, a political enforcer who worked for his father, Gov. Mario Cuomo. He was Andrew Cuomo’s $156,000-a-year executive secretary when he resigned in 2014 to lead Cuomo’s re-election campaign.
According to state financial disclosures, he also made as much as $125,000 by becoming a consultant for COR Development and CHA Consulting, two firms involved in Buffalo Billion and Nano. The firms are also big Cuomo political donors.
Cuomo said Percoco told him he might take consulting clients. But he never asked Percoco to identify them.
Percoco rejoined the administration in late 2014 and received a $20,000 raise from his old salary before quitting a second time in January to become a vice president at Madison Square Garden.