New York, New York. So much vice they say it twice.
We’ve reached what appears to be the end of the line for a story which started back in January of this year when long-time aide to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Joe Percoco, went on trial for a series of pay to play schemes. Percoco had lined his pockets to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars from business owners looking to get a piece of what’s infamously become known as “the Buffalo Billion.” That scheme took a billion dollars of taxpayer money and distributed it in the upstate region of New York, supposedly to expand businesses and spur job growth. Of course, most of the money eventually just disappeared, with only a paltry number of jobs being created.
Cuomo had frequently described Percoco as being “more like a brother” than just a friend to him. But his brother from another mother won’t be seeing much of his boss for a while. A judge in Manhattan just sentenced Percoco to six years in a federal penitentiary. (New York Post)
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former top aide Joe Percoco was sentenced to six years in prison Thursday for using his status as the governor’s “hammer” to line his pockets with more than $320,000 in bribes.
Manhattan federal prosecutors had asked that Percoco’s prison term “meaningfully exceed” the five years suggested by the court’s probation department to send a message to Albany that crime doesn’t pay.
“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,” prosecutors told the judge ahead of sentencing.
Judge Valerie Caproni launched into a speech during the sentencing, saying that the six-year stretch (harsher than what had been requested) should “send a message” to others in state government. Good luck with that, Judge. People have been “sending messages” to Albany for decades and the corruption never seems to end.
Percoco was particularly egregious in his dealings on behalf of the Governor. These weren’t minor exchanges of favors we’re talking about. He was pocketing significant amounts of cash from people seeking lucrative deals with the state government. Most of it was channeled through his wife, who landed a “low show” job with an energy company. She was paid $90K per year to create “lesson plans” for children, a task which took her a couple of hours per week at most. (The company received a deal saving them millions of dollars in return.) Percoco also received straight up cash bribes from other business interests who were seeking favorable treatment from the Governor’s office, also laundered through his wife’s bank account.
Percoco isn’t the first one in Cuomo’s orbit to wind up going to prison on corruption charges and he probably won’t be the last. (There are other trials in progress now.) But can anyone explain to me how Andrew Cuomo keeps being elected by landslide margins and is still being discussed in some circles as a potential 2020 presidential candidate? I can only imagine Donald Trump licking his lips at the thought of facing off with Cuomo. This guy has a cloud of scandals surrounding him like the dust cloud that followed Pigpen around. And yet he somehow keeps avoiding being charged himself.