Joseph Percoco, a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, wants you to know he’s sorry for the actions that led to his conviction for soliciting more than $300,000 in bribes from two companies with business before the state.
He said so in a letter late Thursday to U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni of the Southern District of New York–who is set to sentence him next Thursday, Sept. 20–months after a jury convicted him on federal bribery charges in March.
“I lay awake at night filled not with the fear of what is to come for me, or the pain and embarrassment that I have brought upon myself, but with tremendous remorse for my actions and regret for the damage I have caused others,” Percoco wrote.
Pre-sentencing letters from convicted defendants are often aimed at showing remorse for their actions, which may be a factor in persuading a judge to deliver a lighter sentence. Prosecutors have said they want Percoco’s sentence to “meaningfully exceed” five years to set a precedent for future public corruption cases.
Percoco did not ask Caproni to be lenient in his letter. His attorney already did so in July when he asked Caproni for a sentence of two years or less. Percoco is represented by Barry Bohrer, a partner at Schulte Roth & Zabel in Manhattan.
Percoco, in his letter, portrayed the life of a man dedicated to public service who perhaps took a few wrong turns on the way. He recounted his years of experience working in state government, and said when he left the Cuomo administration in 2016, he “was extremely proud.”
He was convicted of taking bribes from two companies during Cuomo’s first and second terms in office. He served as Cuomo’s campaign manager during the 2014 election. He said in the letter he left state government to spend more time with family.
“I had found a great job in the private sector that would allow me to provide my family with financial security,” Percoco wrote. “And, more importantly, after years of working around the clock, I would finally have the opportunity to send my daughters to school and to tuck them in at night.”
“All of that is now gone, and I have only myself to blame,” he continued.
Percoco’s trial became a frequent talking point in this year’s campaign for governor, but in Thursday’s primary election it didn’t seem to have made much of an impact. Cynthia Nixon, the actress and education advocate who challenged Cuomo, invoked Percoco’s name frequently on the campaign trail. But Cuomo cruised to renomination with more than 65 percent of the vote, defeating Nixon.
Percoco did not mention Cuomo or anyone else from the executive branch by name, but he did apologize for any damage he could have done to public trust in state government.
“Integrity and careful attention to the rules were always virtues I demanded from each and every one of my colleagues. I failed to live up to my own high standards,” Percoco wrote. “I regret that I made even a single New Yorker question the integrity of their government. I regret that I have brought shame and embarrassment upon my former colleagues.”
His was the latest in a string of corruption convictions involving state officials who used their position for bribes and kickbacks. Percoco agreed to use his position to benefit two companies in exchange for more than $300,000. Competitive Power Ventures, an energy company that wanted to build a power plant in the Hudson Valley, paid Percoco’s wife $287,000 for a low-show job in exchange for Percoco’s influence over state officials. They were seeking a power purchase agreement from the state valued at $100 million, according to prosecutors. COR Development paid Percoco $35,000 to release millions of dollars to the company for ongoing development projects in Central New York, prosecutors said. Percoco was also able to get Empire State Development, the state’s economic development agency, to drop a costly labor agreement with COR for an ongoing project. He also facilitated a raise for a COR executive’s son who was then working in Cuomo’s office.
Prosecutors had also brought extortion charges against Percoco as part of the scheme, but he was found not guilty of those claims in a split verdict.
Steven Aiello, an executive at COR, was also found guilty as part of the arrangement. He asked Caproni this week to move his sentencing date from late October until mid-November and December.
Alain Kaloyeros, the former head of SUNY Polytechnic Institute, was also convicted this year on corruption charges brought by federal prosecutors. He was originally a co-defendant with Percoco but was ultimately tried separately. His attorneys asked Caproni this week to also delay his sentencing to December. It was originally scheduled for Oct. 11.