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Prosecutors gather bank, phone records of Cuomo aides

Joseph Percoco, center, exits a federal courthouse in

Joseph Percoco, center, exits a federal courthouse in Manhattan after being arraigned, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Investigators probing New York’s economic development initiatives have collected banking, telephone and email records from a wider array of aides to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and administration associates than previously disclosed.

According to a recent filing in the federal case, prosecutors have sought records from more than a dozen individuals, companies and campaign accounts that were not named in a 2016 indictment that alleged key officials and developers were involved in rigging bids for some of the state’s biggest projects.

The indictment charged Joseph Percoco, formerly one of Cuomo’s longest-tenured and closest advisers; Alain Kaloyeros, the former head of the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute; and six others in the alleged scheme. Todd Howe, a lobbyist who previously worked for Cuomo and the governor’s father, the late Gov. Mario Cuomo, already has pleaded guilty in the case. Percoco, described in the indictment as Andrew Cuomo’s “right hand man,” is accused of pocketing more than $300,000 to wield influence over the governor’s executive chamber to steer bidding.

The projects were spread across upstate New York from the Hudson Valley to Syracuse to Buffalo. A separate but related investigation by the state attorney general’s office focuses on the construction of a SUNY Polytechnic dorm in Albany. A number of the projects are connected to SUNY.

But a recent filing by one of the defense attorneys shows the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, which is prosecuting the case, collected an extensive set of banking and electronic records from numerous others who were involved either in the administration’s economic initiatives or the defendants’ personal finances. None of them have been accused of wrongdoing, but the extensive record-gathering demonstrates the sweeping nature of the probe and outlines some of the courses prosecutors may take when the trial begins in October.

The list includes a number of current and former Cuomo aides and associates: Howard Glaser, Cuomo’s former director of operations; Joseph Rabito, the current secretary of intergovernmental affairs; Gil Quinones, the president and CEO of the New York Power Authority; Aimee Vargas, Cuomo’s director of downstate governmental affairs; and Andrew Kennedy, Cuomo’s former deputy director of operations.

Investigators also sought records for a phone number once assigned to Seth Agata, Cuomo’s former assistant counsel and current head of the state Ethics Commission.

Among the associates, prosecutors sought phone records connected to Thomas Giordano, the former finance director of Cuomo’s election-campaign committees (as well as phones connected to the committee) and John Regan, who worked under Howe and Glaser at different times.

They also sought banking records of Karen Murphy, who sat on the board of a SUNY-affiliated nonprofit that financed some of the projects, as well as those of her husband, William Eimicke, a Columbia University professor, consultant to one of the Syracuse projects in question and former housing official under Mario Cuomo. Eimicke also, according to media reports, hired Glaser for an adjunct teaching job at Columbia’s Picker Center for Executive Education, and has worked as a consultant on projects that received state funding.

The feds, besides gathering some of the defendants’ personal banking records, collected data from several financial institutions: GFI Mortgage Bankers, which, according to media reports, loaned Percoco money and whose principal at the time was Abe Eisner, who has advised Cuomo on Orthodox Jewish affairs; Guardhill Financial, which reportedly loaned money to Howe and Percoco; and Island Capital Group, whose CEO, Andrew Farkas, has been a longtime Cuomo friend and supporter. Cuomo also once worked for Farkas.

Prosecutors also sought records from the Montauk Yacht Club, which is run by Island Global Yachting — Farkas serves as its chairman.

None of the individuals mentioned in the list of collected records returned calls or emails for comment.

The Albany Times Union first reported the court filing, made by a lawyer for Buffalo developer Louis Ciminelli, one of the indicted contractors. Later, the defendants asked Judge Valerie Caproni to strike the list of collected records so that it could be resubmitted as sealed information, a request she granted. Newsday retained the information before it was stricken.

Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi didn’t comment directly on the attorney’s filing and list of materials, but wrote in an email: “As we previously said, we are assisting the U.S. Attorney in any way we can.”

The governor said in December that he had spoken to the U.S. attorney’s office about the case in late 2016, though he said he couldn’t “envision” being a witness in the trial. Cuomo hasn’t been accused of wrongdoing.


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