Ex-Top Aide for Cuomo Pleads Not Guilty to Corruption

MANHATTAN (CN) — New York’s most anticipated corruption trial has a long road ahead, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former top aide Joseph Percoco and others in the executive’s ambit pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges supported by a mountain of paperwork.

At a brief arraignment this morning, federal prosecutors estimated their discovery haul at more than 2 million documents and 2 terabytes of data.

Percoco’s attorney Barry Bohrer, a co-chair at Schulte Roth & Zabel, blanched at the prospect of sorting through that information, even with support by his international firm.

“It’s like blind man’s bluff,” Bohrer told U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni.

Fireworks had been expected when Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara first announced charges against Percoco and seven other men on Sept. 22.

In addition to Percoco’s reputation as Cuomo’s former “gatekeeper” and “right-hand man,” the list of co-defendants included people close to the governor, like Buffalo developer Louis Ciminello and former Alain Kaloyeros, the former president of State University of New York Polytechnic Institute.

The substance of the allegations themselves raised eyebrows, as well. Court papers have been replete with references to the HBO mob drama “The Sopranos,” a donation of a private jet to the governor’s campaign, and bid-rigging of the once-promising development initiative “Buffalo Billion.”

Todd Howe, a lobbyist from the firm Whitman, Osterman & Hanna, previously pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the government.

All of the other eight men denied the accusations against them today.

The other defendants are Competitive Power Ventures executive Peter Galbraith Kelly Jr., Columbia Development president Joseph Nicolla, COR Development president and general counsel Steven Aiello and Joseph Gerardi, and Ciminello’s executives Kevin Schuler and Michael Laiple.

None of the men spoke to the press while filing out of the ceremonial courtroom of the Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse in lower Manhattan.

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