Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he’s “saddened and profoundly disappointed” after his former confidante was charged with taking bribes from companies seeking business and funding from his office.
Joseph Percoco was so close to the governor and his late father, Gov. Mario Cuomo, that Cuomo once referred to Percoco as his father’s “third son”—but Percoco’s name is nowhere in the governor’s statement, which calls him “a former member of my administration.”
“If the allegations are true, I am saddened and profoundly disappointed. I hold my administration to the highest level of integrity,” Cuomo said. “I have zero tolerance for abuse of the public trust from anyone.”
The statement does, however, make reference to their relationship and the relationship with his late father.
“If anything, a friend should be held to an even higher standard. Like my father before me, I believe public integrity is paramount,” he said. “This sort of breach, if true, should be and will be punished.”
Percoco was among a slew of defendants named in an 80-page complaint unsealed by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara today, outlining schemes to take favorable state actions for an energy company that in exchange employed Percoco’s wife (when discussing her salary, Percoco and lobbyist Todd Howe colorfully used the codeword “ziti,” a kind of macaroni, for money—something he lifted from The Sopranos) and to rig bids considered by SUNY Polytechnic University for funding through Cuomo’s economic development program, the Buffalo Billion. Among others charged is Alain Kaloyeros, president of SUNY Polytechnic.
Cuomo said SUNY, run by the state, has “rightly” suspended Kaloyeros without pay.
“This matter is now in the hands of the court, which is exactly where it belongs,” Cuomo said. “My administration will continue to be fully cooperative in the matter as we have been since it began.”