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Joseph Percoco’s ties to Gov. Cuomo run nearly as deep as blood

The federal indictment refers to Joseph Percoco as the late Gov. Mario M. Cuomo’s “third son,” making him a figurative “brother” to current Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

It was something the governor often acknowledged publicly – until last spring.

That’s when Percoco, the long-time confidant to the Cuomo family, became one of several subjects of a federal probe for allegedly misusing his position as the governor’s executive deputy secretary.

Thursday, Percoco and eight others were indicted in an elaborate public corruption, extortion and bribery scheme allegedly involving state officials, lobbyists and developers.

Percoco, who is in his late 40s, got his start as a college intern in Mario Cuomo’s administration.

Like the late governor, Percoco graduated from St. John’s Law School in Queens.

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He is a Bronx native who was raised in Rockland County and now lives in Westchester County.

After serving with the elder Cuomo, Percoco joined Andrew Cuomo while he headed the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, then while he was state attorney general, and then during his two terms as governor.

Considered the “right-hand man” for the current governor, Percoco was regularly seen with the current governor.

In football terms, Percoco was Cuomo’s “free safety.” Some reports referred to him as Cuomo’s “muscle,” controlling access to the governor, planning Cuomo’s travel and events schedule and serving as a primary liaison between Cuomo and lawmakers, union officials or business leaders.

Not only did Percoco help Cuomo hammer out issues on legislation such as getting Republican support for gay marriage in 2011, he also intervened in local issues where necessary, such as smoothing over concerns about Nik Wallenda’s internationally broadcast June 2012 tightrope walk over the Horseshoe Falls.

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“Joe is the guy putting out fires and advancing the agenda of the governor,” Sen. Andrew Lanza, a Staten Island Republican, told the News in 2012. “When you are getting close to the top of an issue, it’s Joe Percoco you are sitting with.”

Percoco left governor’s office last December to take a job earlier this year with the Madison Square Garden Co.

There, he was hired as a senior vice president at MSG to work with its executive managers “to develop and execute strategic business opportunities that drive the overall advancement of the company,” according to MSG’s announcement last December.

His employment status with MSG was unclear Thursday.

News Albany Bureau chief Tom Precious contributed to this story.


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