Hardly reported on in the mainstream media is the growing corruption scandal surrounding New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Yesterday, a number of those in his inner circle were indicted for corruption:
An array of figures from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s inner circle—including a confidante so close the governor called him “my father’s third son”—got slapped with a sweeping 14-count federal indictment today, which alleges they colluded in a pair of schemes to solicit bribes for state assistance and to rig economic development contracts for companies that gave to Cuomo’s campaigns.
A grand jury gave crusading U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara the go-ahead to prosecute his case against Joseph Percoco, the governor’s former campaign manager, deputy executive secretary, political fixer and body man, on charges he solicited bribes and a “low-show job” for his wife from two major Cuomo contributors. In return, the federal government alleges Percoco pressured executive agencies and entities to offer assistance and loosen regulations for the companies’ operations in New York State—and lied about the arrangement on disclosure forms.
Last year, the same U.S. Attorney convicted former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and ex-State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.
Alain E. Kaloyeros, the former president of SUNY Polytechnic Institute, who helped spearhead Governor Cuomo’s economic development programs in upstate New York was also indicted. Six executives from companies that did business with the state of New York were indicted as well:
The arrests of Mr. Percoco, Dr. Kaloyeros and the others came after an inquiry by the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara. A criminal complaint outlined what prosecutors said were two overlapping schemes: Mr. Percoco was accused of taking at least $315,000 in bribes from a firm that was building a power plant in the Hudson Valley, and COR Development, a Syracuse-area developer that won a state economic development contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars; Dr. Kaloyeros was accused of steering state contracts to COR and LPCiminelli, a Buffalo developer.
Another former aide to Mr. Cuomo, Todd R. Howe, who worked for Dr. Kaloyeros and consulted for COR and LPCiminelli, has admitted to arranging both schemes. He has pleaded guilty to eight corruption charges and is cooperating with prosecutors.
The indictment on Tuesday follows the contours of the charges in the criminal complaint, but adds one wire fraud count for each of the bids that Dr. Kaloyeros and the development executives are accused of rigging. The other counts include conspiracy to commit wire fraud, extortion under color of official right, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, solicitation of bribes, payment of bribes and making false statements to federal officers. No date has been set for arraigning the defendants.
So far Cuomo has emerged clean and denies any knowledge whatsoever of any wrongdoing:
“This is a profoundly sad situation for me personally. Now the justice system must take its course, and any of those found guilty of abusing the public’s trust should and will be punished,” the governor said in a statement sent to the Observer, vowing to pursue ethics reform in next year’s legislative session. “Changes need to be made to restore faith at every level of government. My administration has taken a number of steps in the past several months to reform the procurement process, and has proposed additional measures for the Legislature to take up when they return.”
Jazz Show at Hotair muses that this could conceivably involve Hillary Clinton:
Bharara is the guy who is currently going after Anthony Weiner… an investigation which produced all sorts of interesting information. And in August he announced that he was investigating corruption at the New York offices of the Clinton Foundation.
As I said at the time, this isn’t the sort of investigation which was going to be wrapped up in a matter of weeks. These things take time. The FBI may have thrown in the towel on going after Hillary Clinton. Even Donald Trump may be making noises about not needing to “lock her up.” But out there in New York City Preet Bharara is still grinding away at his job. And if he has the Clintons in his sights, don’t expect him to simply go away because the election is over. Preet Bharara is the honey badger of corruption investigations and he is not afraid to do his job.
We’ll continue to watch this story as it develops.