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Star witness completes sixth day of testimony in Percoco bribery trial

Joseph Percoco, center, exits a federal courthouse in

Joseph Percoco, center, exits a federal courthouse in Manhattan on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. Credit: Charles Eckert

Star Albany corruption witness Todd Howe completed his sixth day of testifying and fourth day of cross-examination Wednesday in the Manhattan federal court bribery trial of former top Andrew M. Cuomo aide Joe Percoco, as the judge warned the trial is still over a week from completion.

Ex-lobbyist Howe, due to return Thursday for more questioning, has said he arranged more than $300,000 in bribery payments to Percoco from three clients, energy company executive Peter Galbraith Kelly and two Syracuse developers, in return for favors.

In a new filing, Percoco clarified a buddies-not-bribes defense strategy, urging U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni to allow more evidence on a 2010 fishing trip he and Kelly took and their “shared love” of fishing to show that Kelly hired Percoco’s wife out of friendship, not as a payoff.

Although Percoco and Howe, longtime friends, mocked Kelly by calling him “fat man” in emails, Percoco’s lawyer said Percoco had a “sincere bond” with Kelly and took “pleasure” in his company, leading Kelly to do “a favor for his friend with no expectation that he would receive anything in return.”

The trial began on Jan. 23.

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