Manhattan federal prosecutors on Wednesday urged a judge to impose a prison sentence that “meaningfully exceeds” 5 years on Joe Percoco, the former top aide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo convicted of bribe-taking in March.
“A significant sentence is necessary to demonstrate that no one, not even one of the most influential advisers to New York’s Governor — his ‘right hand man,’ and ‘enforcer’ — is above the law,” prosecutors told U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni.
The government sentencing memorandum was filed late Wednesday. Percoco’s lawyers have not yet filed theirs. Caproni is scheduled to impose sentence on Aug. 10.
Percoco, 48, of upstate South Salem, was convicted of taking more than $300,000 in bribes from a Syracuse developer and an energy company that hired his wife for a low-show job, in return for using his clout as a member of Cuomo’s inner circle to help them.
Prosecutors said nonbinding federal guidelines recommend more than 188 months. But they said that was too long of a sentence in light of comparable cases — such as former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
Silver, who the government said engaged in a longer and more lucrative scheme, received a 12-year sentence by Caproni after his 2015 conviction. He was retried after a reversal and has yet to be sentenced on his new conviction.
Probation officials have recommended 5 years in prison for Percoco, but prosecutors said that was too short, in part because he has continued to insist he is innocent instead of accepting responsibility.
“As the court is aware, and all too sadly, Percoco’s trial exposed wrongdoing at high levels of state government that is hardly aberrant,” prosecutors said. “This court is well positioned to and should send a strong message to those who might consider following in this disgraceful tradition.”
They also asked Caproni to order forfeiture of the more than $300,000 Percoco got in the scheme.