The corruption probe into New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s cronies is growing more complex and more daunting each day. A stunning new report indicates that a pair of administration associates had their homes raided for evidence by FBI agents conducting an ever-widening federal investigation.
Last week, Cuomo’s office admitted that former top aide Joseph Percoco and other contractors working closely with his administration may have “deceived” and “defrauded” the state.
That announcement came shortly after a federal investigation by U.S. attorney Prett Bharara had been revealed, in which potential improper lobbying and undisclosed conflicts of interests in Cuomo’s “Buffalo Billion” boondoggle have been alleged.
Via the New York Post:
Agents carted off evidence from the Westchester home of former top Cuomo aide Joseph Percoco and the Washington, DC-area home of lobbyist Todd Howe, who was fired last week after Cuomo’s office barred state officials from any contact with him, sources said.
A Manhattan federal judge approved search warrants for at least three locations, and the raids were carried out two weeks ago, a law enforcement source said.
The feds were able to secure the warrant for Howe’s out-of-state home by arguing that he conducted business within the Southern District of New York, which covers Manhattan, The Bronx and the northern suburbs, the source said.
Howe and Percoco, who in January began working as a top exec at Madison Square Garden, are at the center of a probe that Cuomo’s office has said involves “questions of improper lobbying and undisclosed conflicts of interest by some individuals which may have deceived state employees involved in the respective programs and may have defrauded the state.”
The New York Times reports that investigators are trying to determine whether Percoco and his wife might have received tens of thousands of dollars from a design and engineering firm involved in the Buffalo Billion project.
The company, according to a person familiar with the development program, worked on one of the main projects, a solar-panel factory for SolarCity, whose chairman is Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla Motors.
The investigation has sent shockwaves throughout the administration with one state source telling the Buffalo News, “the devastation is acute” and “everyone is literally flabbergasted.”
Percoco, described as “hulking” in some media outlets, has long been Cuomo’s strong arm man.
When the investigation into Cuomo’s shuttering of the Moreland “ethics” panel was heating up, Percoco called several of the commissioner’s on the panel and “encouraged” them to make public statements in support of the governor. He intimidated the members, even allegedly offering to write the statements for them and suggesting that the commissioners with which he was “encouraging” the use of private emails rather than New York state accounts.
Percoco and Howe both have longstanding ties to Cuomo and also worked for his late father and former governor, Mario Cuomo.
Cross-posted at the Mental Recession