The New York U.S. Attorney’s office filed charges against nine individuals last week in a New York pay to play scheme. Those arrested included Joseph “Joe” Percoco, aka Herb, a senior official in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration.
The complaint alleges that Percoco, from 2012 until 2016, extorted and conspired to commit extortion under color of official right. This means that he took money or property for financial gain and, in return, he performed favors for them in his official capacity. In this particular case, the companies that paid Percoco included an energy company and a real estate developer. According to the U.S. Attorney, Percoco was one of the closest aides, and one of the most loyal, to Governor Cuomo over the years.
In a separate complaint, Todd Howe was alleged to have conspired to, or committed, honest services fraud, extortion, wire fraud and tax evasion. Howe was a former employee of a government relations firm and, as reported by The Buffalo News, has known Governor Cuomo for almost forty years. Howe was basically the go between person for an energy company and real estate developers, and Percoco. The others involved were charged in the above noted pay to play scheme. He pled guilty to all charges.
The complaints were filed after an investigation revealed that favors were given in order to obtain government contracts for several projects that were to be completed using taxpayer money. The bidding process was rigged in a way that the energy company and the real estate developers would win the bids. In exchange for the inside information required to rig the bids, money and other favors were paid. Howe was paid by the others for his access and his influence with the governor. Cuomo has not been charged in either of the above referenced complaints.
These complaints are but a drop in the bucket as far as political corruption goes. It is encouraging that they are actually being caught, rather than allowed to continue screwing the public out of taxpayer funds; all in an effort to line their own pockets. I believe there is much more of this going on and that most of those involved all over the U.S. will not be brought to justice. Our government in Washington, D.C. is a prime example. How do you stop corruption when those at the very top are on the take? Especially when those very same people are the ones with the power to make sure that doesn’t happen by paying bribes and giving “favors”.