The Latest: Closing arguments begin at Cuomo’s ex-aide trial

NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on closing arguments in the trial of Joseph Percoco, a former top aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (all times local):

3:20 p.m.

Defense lawyers at the bribery trial of a former top aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo say the government’s troubled star witness is proof the prosecution lacks evidence.

Lawyers for the aide, Joseph Percoco, and three businessmen were getting their opportunity to make closing arguments over two days starting Tuesday.

Attorney Milton Williams said the government is destroying lives while repeatedly forgiving the misdeeds of its star witness, lobbyist Todd Howe.

Attorney Stephen Coffey said the case for his client comes down to Howe’s credibility.

The lawyers contend that Howe is a liar.

Percoco’s lawyer was expected to give his closing statement Wednesday.

A prosecutor started closing arguments early Tuesday, saying Percoco and the three businessmen conspired to corrupt New York government.

Cuomo has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

9:30 a.m.

A prosecutor argued at the bribery trial of a former top aide to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo that he proved his guilt by quoting from the mob drama “The Sopranos.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Zhou told jurors Tuesday in Manhattan federal court that they could use Joseph Percoco’s own words — and a word for bribes borrowed from the popular HBO show — to convict him.

Zhou said Percoco’s repeated use of the word “ziti” in his discussions with an Albany lobbyist demonstrated that he understood that roughly $320,000 he was receiving from three businessmen was bribes.

Percoco has pleaded not guilty. He has been on trial for five weeks along with the three businessmen.

His lawyer says Percoco acted honestly and was being framed by a corrupt government cooperator.


1 a.m.

Closing arguments are scheduled to begin Tuesday in the bribery trial of a former top aide to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Defense lawyers presented witnesses over three days to refute a month of evidence from prosecutors aimed at convincing jurors in Manhattan federal court that Joseph Percoco accepted more than $300,000 in bribes from three businessmen to treat them favorably.

Lawyers for the 48-year-old Percoco and the businessmen have maintained that they acted legally and appropriately.

On Monday, all four defendants confirmed to Judge Valerie Caproni that they had decided not to testify.

Closing arguments likely will focus on the credibility of Todd Howe, a lobbyist who was arrested after admitting he had violated his cooperation agreement with the government.

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