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Ex-Cuomo aide, eight others charged in New York corruption case

Stock Markets Sep 22, 2016 10:59AM ET
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© Reuters. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo with his aide Joseph Percoco at the Hotel Nacional in Havana

By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors have charged nine men in a wide-ranging corruption and fraud case in New York, including two former top advisors to Governor Andrew Cuomo, in a case involving state contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The charges announced on Thursday follow a federal investigation into Buffalo Billion, a signature $1 billion economic development project by Cuomo aimed at revitalizing the area around the one-time industrial powerhouse city of Buffalo, located near the border with Canada.

Joseph Percoco, a former executive deputy secretary to the governor, and Alain Kaloyeros, president of SUNY Polytechnic Institute were charged on Thursday along with six others in a criminal complaint filed in Manhattan federal court.

Prosecutors also revealed charges against Todd Howe, a lobbyist and a former strategic advisor to Cuomo when he was secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Howe pleaded guilty earlier this month to charges including extortion and wire fraud and is cooperating with authorities, court papers said.

Richard Morvillo, Howe's lawyer, said his client had "accepted responsibility for his actions and will testify truthfully if called upon."

Barry Bohrer, a lawyer for Percoco, in a statement called the prosecution "an overreach of classic proportions."

Alain Kaloyeros, president of SUNY Polytechnic Institute, was also charged in the case. His lawyer, Michael Miller, declined to comment.

INVESTIGATION

Cuomo announced the Buffalo Billion plan in 2012, saying the state would provide incentives, including tax credits and state grants, to induce companies to come to the Buffalo area and help revitalize the struggling region.

According the complaint, the criminal charges stemmed from two overlapping schemes involving bribes, corruption and fraud in the awarding of contracts and other state benefits.

One scheme, according to the complaint, involved efforts by Percoco, described as Cuomo's "right-hand-man" to obtain bribes from company executives seeking benefits and business from the state, which he sometimes funneled through bank accounts and a shell company Howe set up.

Howe, meanwhile, arranged for more than $315,000 to be funneled to Percoco and his wife, funded by two companies for which he was consulting, the complaint said.

These included an energy company that had obtained a $100 million contract to finance a power plant, the complaint said.

In the second scheme, Kaloyeros, who oversaw a grant application process for Buffalo Billion and similar programs, hired Howe to help develop projects and locate developers for them, the complaint said.

Howe in turn sought bribes and gratuity payments from a Syracuse real estate developer involved in the other scheme with Percoco and a Buffalo-based developer, the complaint said.

Ex-Cuomo aide, eight others charged in New York corruption case
 

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