By LOUIS FLORES
A Federal grand jury has handed down an indictment against the eight co-Defendants arrested in September on Federal corruption charges in connection with large economic development projects in New York State, including the Buffalo Billion project that has been a hallmark of the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-New York).
The indictment identified 14 counts of crimes against named Joseph Percoco, Alain Kaloyeros, Peter Galbraith Kelly, Jr., Steven Aiello, Joseph Gerardi, Louis Ciminelli, Micahel Laipple, and Kevin Schuler. Federal prosecutors in the office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara had faced a deadline of Wednesday to file the Indictment, according to Federal law.
As reported by Progress Queens, the co-Defendants had sought and were granted an extension of time last month in order to negotiate possible plea agreements with Federal prosecutors. The release of the Federal grand jury Indictment means that negotiations to enter into plea agreements were unsuccessful.
Barry Bohrer, an attorney representing Mr. Percoco, once one of Gov. Cuomo's top political aides, released a statement, stating that, "This case is a real turkey. We will knock the stuffing out of it at trial. We give thanks for a system in which a jury can reject the government's efforts to criminalize conduct that has been found unworthy of prosecution by the highest court in the land. Mr. Percoco is innocent and will enter a plea of not guilty because he is."
Dawn Dearden, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office, said that Federal prosecutors would not be making a public statement about the Indictment.
In the Criminal Complaint that led to the arrests of the eight co-Defendants, it was alleged that Mr. Percoco's wife, Lisa Toscano-Percoco, had accepted bribes. However, she has not been charged with crimes by Federal prosecutors.*
It is not known whether President-elect Donald Trump will reappoint U.S. Attorney Bharara to continue serving as the nation's top Federal prosecutor for New York's southern district. From his post, U.S. Attorney Bharara has been investigating and prosecuting political and campaign corruption. If there is a change in U.S. Attorney's, the co-Defendants may face a different legal landscape as the case progresses to trial.
The Government's case is reportedly being assisted by a coöperating witness, the lobbyist Todd Howe.
Thus far, Mr. Percoco is the sole, high-ranking Cuomo aide to face criminal charges as a consequence of the crackdown on corruption by Federal prosecutors. Federal prosecutors from the office of U.S. Attorney Bharara have arrested and prosecuted a range of State and Municipal public officials from Albany to Manhattan for corruption, including the two former State legislative leaders, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Lower East Side) and former State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre).
* This report was updated to clarify that it was only alleged that Lisa Toscano-Percoco had accepted bribes.
- US v. Percoco, et al Indictment (Foreperson Signed) [Scribd]
- 2016-09-20 Joseph Percoco, et al. - Criminal Complaint (16 MAG 6005) [Archive.org]
- 2016 XX XX US V Todd Howe Criminal Information Filing [Archive.org]
- Defendants in Buffalo Billion corruption case face Nov. 23 deadline for indictments ; plea negotiations possible [Progress Queens]
- Preet Bharara describes corruption in New York as "systemic," overlooks do-nothing District Attorneys [Progress Queens]
- Gov. Cuomo in political crisis as former right hand man Percoco expected to be charged in Buffalo Billion probe [Progress Queens]
- Preet Bharara investigating Cuomo's Buffalo Billion program, adding to FBI probe [Updated] [Progress Queens]