Gov. Cuomo in political crisis as former right hand man Percoco expected to be charged in Buffalo Billion probe

The Federal criminal complaint lists Joseph Percoco, Alain Kaloyeros, Peter Galbraith Kelly Jr., Steven Aiello, Josepoh Gerardi, Louis Ciminelli, and KevinSchuler as defendants

By LOUIS FLORES

The administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-New York) faces its "most significant political crisis" as one of Gov. Cuomo's former top political aides, Joseph Percoco, reportedly faced imminent Federal public corruption charges, according to a report published by The Wall Street Journal

Gov. Andrew Cuomo with another of his former top political aides, Lawrence Schwartz, during a Cuomo administration cabinet meeting in December 2014, shortly before Mr. Schwartz reportedly resigned. Source : Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor/Flickr/Public Domain

Gov. Andrew Cuomo with another of his former top political aides, Lawrence Schwartz, during a Cuomo administration cabinet meeting in December 2014, shortly before Mr. Schwartz reportedly resigned. Source : Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor/Flickr/Public Domain

Barry Bohrer, an attorney representing Mr. Percoco, did not immediately answer a request for comment for this report.

Mr. Percoco and his wife, Lisa Toscano-Percoco, have reportedly received payments or earned income from companies doing business with New York State. 

The reported Federal corruption charges stem from a Federal investigation of Gov. Cuomo's signature economic development program, the Buffalo Billion. In the past, Gov. Cuomo has sought to portray the reported Federal investigation as being solely centered on a few individuals, chiefly Mr. Percoco and another former political aide, Todd Howe, according to a report published by The Buffalo News. Mr. Howe is now reportedly a coöperating witness in the Federal corruption investigation.

The press office of Gov. Cuomo did not immediately answer a request made by Progress Queens to respond to the report published by The Wall Street Journal.

In addition to having formerly served as one of Gov. Cuomo's top political aides, Mr. Percoco also served as Gov. Cuomo's campaign manager during the 2014 state election cycle.

The Federal criminal complaint listed eight individuals as defendants, including other close political allies of Gov. Cuomo :  Alain Kaloyeros, an executive with the State University of New York system, and Louis Ciminelli, a campaign contributor and a leading Buffalo-area businessman. A ninth individual, Mr. Howe, faced a filing of separate criminal charges. The shear number of individuals with close ties to Gov. Cuomo facing corruption charges proposes to rock public confidence in the integrity of his administration, according to Government reform activists, who have long been critical of Gov. Cuomo.

Mr. Percoco previously brought unwanted attention to the close coördination that reportedly takes place between Gov. Cuomo's inner political circle and other Government functions that should appear autonomous. In 2014, Mr. Percoco was reportedly at the center of attempts by Cuomo administration officials to allegedly contact witnesses of a short-lived Federal investigation into the premature closure of the Moreland Commission, according to a report published by The Albany Times Union. The Moreland Commission was an anti-corruption panel that was summarily shuttered after Gov. Cuomo reached a budget deal with the former State legislative leaders at the time, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Lower East Side) and former New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Center).

In the time since, former Speaker Silver and former Majority Leader Skelos were each separately charged with Federal corruption charges as part of efforts by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara to clean up the State capital of political and campaign finance corruption.

The press office of U.S. Attorney Bharara has a policy of not commenting on, or acknowledging, any investigation conducted by Federal prosecutors.

U.S. Attorney Bharara will be holding a press conference at noon on Thursday to discuss the public corruption charges, according to a social media message posted by the Federal prosecutor's Twitter account.

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