NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A former top aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been sentenced to six years in prison on charges of fraud and accepting bribes.
Joseph Percoco was sentenced Thursday by a federal judge in New York City.
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.
“I was an Assistant District Attorney and Attorney General, and the rule of law is paramount. Joe Percoco is paying the price for violating the public trust. And it should serve as a warning to anyone who fails to uphold his or her oath as a public servant. On a personal level, the human tragedy for Joe’s young children and family is a very sad consequence,” the governor said in statement after Percoco’s sentencing.
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?”
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)