The jury is being selected in the corruption trial of one of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s former top aides. Joseph Percoco pleaded “not guilty” to federal bid-rigging and bribery charges. He is standing trial in New York City on federal charges that he used his close relationship with Governor Cuomo to collect $300 thousand in bribe money. Criminal defense attorney Barry Covert spoke to WIVB about the case. The full story is available on the WIVB website and by watching the video below.
According to WIVB, Percoco is accused of taking over $300,000 in bribes from COR Development, based in Syracuse, and CPV, an energy company based in Maryland. Prosecutors say that these companies bribed Percoco to remove bureaucratic obstacles for them and to help them benefit financially. WIVB reports that Republican leaders could try to connect Governor Cuomo and his reelection campaign to this case.
Mr. Covert told WIVB that the Percoco case could shed some light on a more unsavory side of the state government. “If either public officials or family members are receiving any benefits, I think that causes a distrust from the taxpayers and from the citizens looking at that from the outside,” he said. Mr. Covert went on to say that, even if the case is not proven beyond a reasonable doubt, it could lead taxpayers to ask questions about why government leaders are getting benefits from donors that the citizens do not get.
Proving the case
WIVB reports that prosecutors in the case are seeking to prove that Percoco was financially rewarded for using his power to benefit those who bribed him. Mr. Covert told WIVB that this could be difficult to prove. “The government has to prove not only that the official received some benefits or gifts from a donor, but exactly what the official was going to do in exchange for it, and just generally receiving gifts is not sufficient,” he explained.
About Barry N. Covert
Mr. Covert is a senior partner in Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria’s Criminal Defense Trials and Appeals Practice Area. He is known for his aggressive representation of clients in the areas of New York State and federal criminal trials and appeals; driving while intoxicated; constitutional law, including First Amendment, civil rights actions, and federal False Claims Act; defending against allegations of scientific misconduct and fraud, research misconduct and fraud, plagiarism, and fabrication of evidence; and professional licensing defense. Mr. Covert frequently provides legal analysis for WGRZ and other media outlets.