Bail Revoked for Star Witness in NY Corruption Case

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s former aide Joseph Percoco smiles broadly while holding a large tuna that he caught on a fishing trip in Montauk, New York. The man he’s posing with, disgraced lobbyist Todd Howe, showed the jury this photograph as the government’s star witness in a corruption trial that has embarrassed some big fish in New York’s political sphere.

MANHATTAN (CN) – Hauled into the court where he has been testifying on a wide-ranging New York corruption scheme, the government’s star witness had his bail revoked following his apparent confession to a new crime on the witness stand.

Todd Howe’s presentment Friday capped off an explosive first week for the disgraced former lobbyist in a federal trial implicating some of New York’s most powerful political figures, as well as energy and real estate titans.

In his emails with lead defendant Joseph Percoco, a former top deputy to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Howe allegedly used “ziti” as an Italian-spiced code word for bribes. Prosecutors say the reference was inspired by an episode of HBO’s “The Sopranos,” but U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni refused to let the jury see the clip in question.

Howe’s cooperation agreement already exposed him to a possible 130-year sentence on eight convictions, but Howe’s admission on the stand to seeking a credit card refund for a hotel stay reportedly jeopardized the deal just two days into cross-examination.

With four defense attorneys eager to discredit Howe, The Wall Street Journal reported that Daniel Gitner, representing Competitive Power Ventures executive  Peter Galbraith Kelly, drew blood in a series of questions that reportedly led to Howe’s rearrest Thursday evening.

“Isn’t it true that in an effort to get out of paying that $604 that you had spent staying at Waldorf the night before meeting these people on the way to the cooperation agreement, you told Capital One that you hadn’t stayed at Waldorf, right?” Gitner asked on Thursday.

“I don’t recall, but I’m sure if that’s what you said I did, I’m sure I did,” Howe replied at the time.

When asked whether he had been lying to the credit card company, Howe agreed: “I believe so, yes.”

The evening after this testimony, U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken revoked Howe’s bail with conditions that included a $100,000 bond effected by him and a co-signer.

Howe was read his rights at a brief presentment on Friday, where a March 2 hearing was scheduled to determine how the apparent violation of his cooperation agreement may affect his case.

Such proceedings are not expected to keep Howe from returning Monday to the witness stand.

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