NEW YORK (AP) — A judge is set to decide whether a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo receives leniency or a long prison sentence for his conviction on federal bribery and fraud charges.
Joseph Percoco was scheduled to be sentenced Thursday in Manhattan federal court by U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni.
Prosecutors say he should serve well over five years in prison. His lawyers say he should get no more than two years.
Percoco was convicted in March on bribery and fraud charges. He was acquitted of extortion and a bribery count.
Prosecutors say Percoco and his family accepted more than $300,000 in bribes from companies that wanted to gain influence with the Cuomo administration.
Cuomo wasn’t accused of wrongdoing, but testimony presented an unflattering picture of the inner workings of his office.
In a sentencing submission, his lawyers wrote that Percoco’s punishment has already begun.
“The trial — which played out on the pages of virtually every newspaper and media outlet in New York — has all but destroyed Joe’s life. Joe faces impending bankruptcy and a substantial term of incarceration,” they wrote.
Prosecutors called on the judge to send a message to state officials.
“As the Court is aware, and all too sadly, Percoco’s trial exposed wrongdoing at high levels of state government that is hardly aberrant. Recent prosecutions and trials in this district have laid bare the ugly truth that, too often, political power and responsibility in New York leads to political corruption,” they wrote.
In a letter to the judge, Percoco wrote that he was truly sorry.
“I am filled with remorse and regret, as I will be for the rest of my life. I wish I could go back and do things differently, but I can’t,” he said.
Cuomo’s political rivals have seized on Percoco’s conviction as evidence that the two-term Democrat hasn’t done enough to address chronic corruption in state government — even within his own administration.
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, the Republican candidate for governor, asked police to investigate Percoco’s use of a state office and telephone even after he left his government job to lead Cuomo’s 2014 re-election bid. And Percoco plays a big role in Molinaro’s “Cuomo Corruption Tour,” a series of campaign events that he launched last week.
Cynthia Nixon, the longtime political activist and former “Sex and the City” star, dismissed Cuomo’s explanation that he didn’t know about Percoco’s misdeeds. She said the governor is responsible for his administration, and should have known what his top aide was up to.
“We have either incompetence or corruption,” she said. “Which is it?”
By LARRY NEUMEISTER and DAVID KLEPPER
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