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Case Of South Salem Resident, Ex-Cuomo Aide Nears Mistrial

Todd Howe, left, and Joseph Percoco on a 2010 fishing trip. Howe is the government's star witness in Percoco's corruption trial.
Todd Howe, left, and Joseph Percoco on a 2010 fishing trip. Howe is the government's star witness in Percoco's corruption trial. Photo Credit: U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

A judge has ordered a deadlocked jury to keep deliberating as the trial of Northern Westchester resident Joseph Percoco, a former top aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues in its seventh week.

Last year, Percoco, who lives in South Salem, was indicted on corruption charges that allege he accepted more than $300,000 in bribes to benefit Competitive Power Ventures, an energy company that sought to build the power plant in the Hudson Valley, and COR Development, a real estate developer that received several sizable state projects.

The bribes, which also included $90,000 a year payments to Percoco's wife, were arranged by Todd Howe, another former aide, infamous lobbyist, and close friend of Cuomo, according to court papers. Howe was grilled by the defense team for several days of the trial during cross-examination, leading to his arrest after he violated the terms of an agreement of his plea bargain.

After deliberating for several days, an exasperated jury is reaching its breaking point, according to multiple reports. On Monday, the jury requested several items that included testimony, invoices and other evidence as the deliberations continue. Several jurors have reportedly asked to be dismissed from the jury for various reasons.

The 12-member panel has been deliberating since March 1. The trial began on Jan. 22, and was supposed to last between four and six weeks. A mistrial is possible if the jury remains deadlocked.

On the stand last month, Howe said that Percoco called the money he received in the “pay-to-play” scheme “ziti,” stating it was a reference to “The Sopranos,” according to a New York Post report. According to the report, before Howe took the stand, prosecutors unsuccessfully attempted to play a clip from the popular HBO show before he testified.

The defense team repeatedly attacked Howe's credibility during cross-examination, showcasing how the lobbyist embezzled money, lost a near million dollar home for failure to make mortgage payments and has led schemes to defraud friends, co-workers, employees and family members over the past two decades.

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