MANHATTAN (CN) — A grand jury returned a federal indictment on Tuesday against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top aides, including former “right-hand man” Joseph Percoco, whose lawyer roasted the case as a “real turkey.”
The new filing comes two months to the day that prosecutors unveiled an 80-page criminal complaint depicting Percoco as a wannabe mafioso who described bribery payments as “zitti.”
Court papers also named seven other men, including Alain Kaloyeros, the 60-year-old president of the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute, a key figure in Cuomo’s signature initiative “Buffalo Billion.”
That initiative poured $1 billion meant to restore the western New York metropolis to its former splendor, before its booming grain, steel and automobile industry moved elsewhere.
Now a grand jury has charge all seven of the men in a 36-page indictment.
“[The] charges in this indictment stem from two wide-ranging and overlapping criminal schemes involving bribery, corruption and fraud in the award of hundreds of millions of dollars in New York State contracts and other official benefits,” the filing begins.
Other defendants include Peter Galbraith Kelly, Jr., an executive for the energy company Competitive Power Ventures; Steven Aiello, the president of Syracuse developer COR Development Co.; Joseph Gerardi, its general counsel; Louis Ciminelli, a Buffalo developer and major Cuomo donor; and Ciminello’s executives, Michael Laipple and Kevin Schuler.
There are twice as many charges as there are defendants: 14, including honest-services fraud, soliciting and paying bribes, and extortion.
Percoco’s lawyer Barry Bohrer, a partner at Schulte Roth & Zabel, trotting out the Thanksgiving puns to scoff at all the counts.
“This case is a real turkey,” he said in a statement. “We will knock the stuffing out of it at trial. We give thanks for a system in which a jury can reject the government’s efforts to criminalize conduct that has been found unworthy of prosecution by the highest court in the land. Mr. Percoco is innocent and will enter a plea of not guilty because he is.”
Kaloyeros’ attorney Michael Miller released a more sober statement.
“We are disappointed with the government’s decision to indict Dr. Kaloyeros,” Miller said. “Dr. Kaloyeros is innocent of the charges filed against him and looks forward to being exonerated.”
Highlighting his client’s academic achievements, Miller added: “Dr. Kaloyeros has dedicated his life to training young scientists, developing cutting-edge research, and attracting outstanding tech companies, economic development and jobs to Upstate New York.”