A South Salem man who was a close friend and employee of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, along with eight others, including the president of SUNY Poltechnic Institute, were charged Thursday in a large federal public corruption complaint that reached all the way to Albany.
The charges against Joseph Percoco, of South Salem, the former executive deputy secretary to Cuomo, and Alain Kaloyeros, the president of SUNY Poly, stem from two separate but overlapping schemes involving bribery, corruption, and fraud in the award of hundreds of millions of dollars in New York State contracts and other official state actions, according to Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
In the first scheme, Percoco is alleged to have accepted more than $315,000 in bribes between 2012 and 2016 in return for taking official state action to benefit Competitive Power Ventures, an energy company that was trying to build a power plant in the Hudson Valley, and COR Development, a Syracuse-based real estate developer that received several large state economic development projects.
The bribes from both, which also included $90,000 a year payments to Percoco's wife, were arranged by Todd Howe, another former aide and close friend of Cuomo's, the compliant said.
The complaint also charged Steven Aiello, of COR Development; Joseph Gerardi, also of COR; Louis Ciminelli, Michael Laipple and Kevin Schuler of LPCiminelli, and Peter Galbraith Kelly Jr., from Competitive Power Venture.
In the second scheme, the others named in the complaint are alleged to have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to Howe, to help administer the state’s “Buffalo Billion” initiative and related programs.
In exchange for the bribe payments, Howe and Kaloyeros secretly rigged the bids on lucrative state-funded contracts to ensure a Syracuse developer and a Buffalo developer would win the contracts, Bharara said.
Howe, who is cooperating with the government, also pleaded guilty for his part in the schemes on Thursday, Bharara said.
“Today’s charges shine a light on yet another sordid side of the show-me-the money culture that has so plagued Albany. As alleged, Joseph Percoco, the former Executive Deputy Secretary to the Governor, was on the take," said Bharara. "And pervasive corruption and fraud allegedly infected signature state development projects like the Buffalo Billion program. The bids allegedly were rigged, the results preordained; companies got rich and the public got bamboozled. As alleged in the complaint, it turns out the state legislature does not have a monopoly on crass corruption in New York.”
Percoco's ties with the Cuomos date back almost 30 years to working with Mario Cuomo as a 19-year old, to becoming what Andrew Cuomo said was his father's third son.
The two men bonded over their middle-class backgrounds and would frequently take fishing trips to the Hamptons. Percoco would eventually leave Cuomo's administration in January and the governor cut ties with him in April after more information about the ongoing federal investigation came to light.
“These arrests speak volumes to those who, as alleged in the complaint, arrogantly took what was not theirs and who acted without morals and ignored ethics," said FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Adam Cohen. "Each of them allegedly broke the law because they chose greed, and, as a result, personally tarnished a historic opportunity. Their alleged behavior compromised the integrity of government and impeded the promise of liberty. We cannot say it often enough: It is the expectation of the public that government officials are not in their positions to self-deal or to serve their personal interests.”