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Ex-aide to New York Governor Cuomo found guilty of taking bribes

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A former aide to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was found guilty by a Manhattan jury on Tuesday of agreeing to take bribes from executives at two companies seeking to do business with the state government, federal prosecutors said.

The verdict against Joseph Percoco is the highest-profile federal corruption conviction in New York since the 2015 convictions of two former leading state legislators, which were later overturned. Percoco’s lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment.

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 Cuomo, a Democrat who is up for reelection this year, has not been charged with wrongdoing.

Percoco was indicted on bribery and conspiracy charges in November 2016. Prosecutors said he took bribes from Peter Galbraith Kelly, an executive at the energy company Competitive Power Ventures, and from Steven Aiello and Joseph Gerardi, founders of the real estate company Cor Development.

The three executives were on trial alongside Percoco. Aiello was found guilty on Tuesday of one count of conspiracy, while Gerardi was acquitted of all charges, Dawn Dearden, a spokeswoman for the prosecutors, said. The jury said it was deadlocked on charges against Kelly. Lawyers for Aiello, Gerardi and Kelly could not immediately be reached.

Prosecutors have said that Kelly bribed Percoco by giving his wife, Lisa Percoco, a mostly no-show job that paid $90,000 a year for three years in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to win favorable treatment from state officials for two power plant projects.

They said Aiello and Gerardi paid cash bribes through shell companies to get favorable treatment for development of a parking lot.

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The nearly six-week trial took an unexpected turn in early February when the prosecutors’ star witness, former Cuomo aide Todd Howe, was arrested after admitting on the witness stand that he had violated his cooperation agreement.

Aiello and Gerardi are expected to face a second trial on separate charges that they took part in a bid-rigging scheme involving a billion-dollar development project in Buffalo, New York.

The case is one of a series of high-profile corruption prosecutions launched by former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, and former state Senate leader Dean Skelos, a Republican, were both convicted of taking bribes in 2015, but their convictions were overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.

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Prosecutors have said they plan to try both men again.

Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Susan Thomas


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Brian Williams compares Corey Lewandowski’s opening statement to the North Korean news lady

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MSNBC host Brian Williams on Tuesday noted the similarities between former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and North Korean news anchor Ri Chun Hee.

"Corey Lewandowski, the former Trump campaign manager who is now considering a Senate run in New Hampshire, testified before the House Judiciary Committee today," Williams reported. "It is likely his North Korean anchorwoman-quality opening remarks were meant were one viewer (Donald Trump)."

Ri, who has earned the nickname "Pink Lady," is known for her enthusiastic reading of government-approved news.

Watch the video below from MSNBC.

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CNN

‘Train-wreck of a witness’: Analysts nail ‘obstructive’ Corey Lewandowski for proving the Democrats’ case

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Political commentator Catherine Rampell disagreed with New York Times columnist Frank Bruni that the Democrats faltered during the hearing with Corey Lewandowski Tuesday. Former state and federal prosecutor Elie Honig called Lewandowski a "train-wreck of a witness."

She explained that Democrats had an extremely low bar: they had to prove Trump obstructed justice and that Corey Lewandowski gave one of the examples of such obstructions. In that sense, Rampell said they accomplished their goals.

"I don’t think this was a great day for Corey Lewandowski," she began. "This is a guy who went on TV and announced to the world -- apparently at the same time he is also trying to fundraise for Senate -- that he lies most of the time. Except when he's under oath."

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CNN

WATCH: Ana Navarro keeps shouting down Trump booster — even as CNN host cuts to commercial

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President Donald Trump cheered on his top Hispanic advisor Steve Cortes, who appeared before a New Mexico audience. Trump asked Cortes which he loved more, Hispanics or America, which prompted CNN's Ana Navarro to blast the president for racism. Meanwhile, Trump's latest CNN shill cried "political correctness."

"Look, I suspect he didn't want to offend Steve Cortes and I suspect Steve Cortes was not offended," Navarro said. "But really what a stupid thing to say. Right? To somehow ask the question about whether you love the country more than you love Hispanics -- they are one and the same."

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