ALBANY – A federal appeals court has rejected a bid by Joseph Percoco, a former top aide and longtime friend of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, to remain out of prison while he appeals his 2018 corruption conviction.
Percoco on Thursday was ordered to report to a federal prison no later than March 14 to begin serving a six-year sentence for trading the power of his state position in the Cuomo administration for more than $300,000 in bribe payments.
Percoco, who has been a campaign chairman for Cuomo’s political efforts, was convicted last year in a case that originally was a part of the Buffalo Billion corruption probe. A Westchester County resident, Percoco was considered Cuomo’s most trusted adviser for years – helping the Democratic government with labor problems, relations with legislators and even Cuomo’s personal finances.
The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan had given Percoco a brief delay in going to prison – he was due to report March 1 – when it granted a temporary stay on Feb. 22 to consider whether he could remain free during his appeals process. On Thursday morning, court papers were filed vacating the temporary stay and ordering Percoco to report to prison next week.
Republicans have been – unsuccessfully – trying to get a state ethics agency to launch an investigation into why Percoco was permitted to keep using his state office in Manhattan after he left his state post to run the governor’s 2014 re-election campaign. The unusual arrangement was disclosed during his federal trial last year in a lower Manhattan courtroom; Cuomo officials have maintained that Percoco was involved in “transition” work in the state office, located just steps away from Cuomo’s office in mid-town Manhattan.
Cuomo once referred to Percoco as his “brother."
The three-judge appeals court on Thursday did grant a request by Syracuse developer Steven Aiello, founder of Cor Development, to remain out of prison during his appeals process. Aiello was convicted in two separate trials last year, including the Buffalo Billion trial featuring Buffalo developer Louis Ciminelli, of engaging in a bribery scheme.