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Judge denies Joseph Percoco bid to delay corruption sentence

Joseph Percoco exits a federal courthouse in Manhattan

Joseph Percoco exits a federal courthouse in Manhattan with his attorney after being found guilty on corruption charges in March 2018. Credit: Charles Eckert

A Manhattan federal judge on Friday rebuffed a bid from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's former lieutenant Joseph Percoco to delay his March 1 surrender to begin serving a 6-year corruption sentence.

U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni said the legal arguments from the one-time Albany power broker had been widely rejected by other courts, and claims that there wasn’t enough evidence were not likely to succeed at the 2d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The sufficiency challenges . . . do not present a close question, in light of the overwhelming evidence of a corrupt bargain,” she wrote.

Percoco, 49, of South Salem, was convicted last year of taking more than $300,000 in bribes from a power company that hired his wife for a low-show job and a Syracuse developer, and using his influence in Cuomo’s executive chamber in return.

In a related state corruption case involving bid-rigging, Caproni allowed bail during their appeals to former SUNY official Alain Kaloyeros, Buffalo construction mogul Lou Ciminelli and other convicted defendants because the prosecution relied on an unusual legal theory.

But Percoco’s claims were different. He argued, for example, that prosecutors had to prove that he was paid a bribe for a specific act and could not rely on a so-called “retainer theory” that he was given benefits in return for providing assistance when needed.

That argument, Caproni said, “has been rejected by every court that has addressed the issue” and “would require overturning crystal clear Second Circuit precedent.”

Percoco’s lawyer Barry Bohrer said he will now ask the 2d Circuit itself to grant bail while Percoco’s appeal is heard, a step it has taken twice to delay former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s surrender to start serving his corruption sentence.

Bohrer did not respond to a question about what prison Percoco has been assigned to serve his time.

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