NEW YORK — The government’s prize witness in the corruption case against a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo is poised to begin his testimony Monday, providing evidence against a longtime friend.
Todd Howe will testify at the Manhattan federal court trial of Joseph Percoco.
Prosecutors say Percoco, 48, accepted more than $300,000 in bribes from three businessmen, most of it the form of a job for his wife. The businessmen, including two real estate developers, are on trial with him. His lawyers say any money paid to Percoco or his wife was not a bribe.
Howe pleaded guilty in 2016 to charges in a cooperation deal that required him to turn against a man he brought into the Cuomo family fold when he worked for the governor’s father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo.
During opening statements, defense attorney Barry Bohrer labeled Howe a liar, telling jurors that his client’s onetime good friend had “kidnapped the truth in this case” and was holding the defendants hostage to gain his freedom.
Bohrer said Howe has a “below zero interest in the truth.”
And he promised to expose the lies on the witness stand.
Some of Howe’s testimony was sure to center on his dealings with COR Development Corp. and Competitive Power Ventures. COR’s founders are on trial. The fourth defendant is an energy industry lobbyist and former executive at Competitive Power.
Prosecutors say nearly $300,000 of the bribes alleged in the trial was paid to Percoco’s wife for a job that required little work. They also allege that $35,000 paid to Percoco from a company operated by Howe succeeded in getting Percoco’s aid on the redevelopment of Syracuse’s Inner Harbor and a raise for a co-defendant’s son, who worked for Cuomo.
The governor is not expected to be a witness at the trial.