As the corruption trial of Joe Percoco, a former senior aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, wrapped up, the corruption trial of another high-profile New York politician – former Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano – was getting underway. But apart from the fact that both men have been accused of wrongdoing (proven in one case, unproven in the other), what else do the two men have in common?
Percoco: He was charged with soliciting and accepting more than $315,000 in bribes in exchange for official action to help two companies with business before the state: the energy company Competitive Power Ventures and the real estate firm Cor Development Co. He was also charged with extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion.
Mangano: He was indicted on charges that included bribery, conspiracy to commit bribery, honest services fraud, extortion and obstructing justice. The allegations involve official acts to benefit restaurateur Harendra Singh, including making government loan guarantees. In exchange, prosecutors said, Singh provided Mangano with expensive furniture, a luxury watch, home upgrades, free meals, and vacations to Florida and various tropical islands.
THE STAR WITNESS:
Percoco: Todd Howe, who made a plea deal with prosecutors, testified in court how he conspired with Percoco in the bribery scheme. Midtrial, he was arrested and jailed after admitting he had falsely disputed a credit card charge, violating his agreement with prosecutors. However, he continued to testify, and questions about Howe’s credibility didn’t save Percoco.
Mangano: Singh, the Long Island restaurant owner at the center of the case, has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with prosecutors. Like Howe, his credibility is sure to be scrutinized during the trial.
Percoco: He was convicted on three corruption charges. He was found not guilty of extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion.
Mangano: To be determined. Opening statements were made earlier this month.
THE SUPPORTING CAST:
Percoco: Among the co-defendants, Steven Aiello, a Cor Development executive, was convicted of bribery conspiracy. Joseph Gerardi, another Cor executive, was acquitted. The jury did not reach a verdict for Peter Galbraith Kelly Jr., the Competitive Power Ventures executive who found a job for Percoco’s wife.
Mangano: He is being tried alongside his wife, Linda Mangano, and John Venditto, the former Oyster Bay supervisor. Linda Mangano and Venditto are charged with obstructing justice and making false statements, and Venditto is also charged with bribery and honest services fraud.
Percoco: Lisa Percoco was paid $90,000 by Competitive Power Ventures for a “low-show” job with the company’s educational program.
Mangano: Linda Mangano allegedly was paid more than $450,000 by Singh for a “no-show” job that purportedly involved food tasting.
THE OTHER TRIALS:
Percoco: Percoco may appeal his verdict. Whether he does or not, another Cuomo associate will go on trial later this spring: former SUNY Polytechnic Institute President and CEO Alain Kaloyeros. Kaloyeros was charged with wire fraud for his role in an alleged bid-rigging scheme on a state-funded Buffalo Billion project with executives at LPCiminelli.
Mangano: Rob Walker, a top aide to Mangano, has also been indicted on charges of obstructing justice and lying to the FBI. Additionally, Frederick Mei, the former deputy town attorney in Oyster Bay, already pleaded guilty to honest services fraud, and cooperated with investigators.
Percoco: Observers said Percoco’s guilty verdict and questionable activity raised during testimony could damage Cuomo politically, both in his 2018 re-election campaign and in a potential presidential bid in 2020. The governor has sought to downplay the ties, not always with success.
Mangano: Less attention has been paid to Cuomo’s long-standing alliance with Mangano, even though the two men are members of different parties. Singh has also been linked to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and pleaded guilty to trying to bribe the mayor. While de Blasio avoided charges, he may be called to testify in the Mangano case. Separately, the legal cloud hanging over Venditto may have cost his son, Michael Venditto, who was voted out of the state Senate in 2016.