PERCOCO’S DEFENSE RESTS

March 02, 2018 at 4:30 am

The defense rests in the trial of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s former top aide, Joseph Percoco. The allegations of corruption include pay for play, off-color emails, and a code name “Ziti.” Jennifer Rodgers, Executive Director of Columbia Law School’s Center for Advancement of Public Integrity, is here with an explanation of the trial’s next steps and a deep analysis of Albany’s sub-culture.

Aired on March 1, 2018. 

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>>> YOU CAN'T JUST PROVIDE AN
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT POLICY THAT
AWARDS PEOPLE HUNDREDS OF
MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN SOME
CASES TO COME INTO THE STATE AND
THE GOVERNOR PICKS AND CHOOSES
WHO THAT IS.
AND THAT HAS ACTUALLY ENDED UP
WITH A LOT OF WINNERS, AND MANY
LOSERS AND THE LOSERS ARE PICKED
BY THE GOVERNOR.
AND IF YOU LOOK AT THE
CORRUPTION TRIAL GOING ON IN NEW
YORK CITY RIGHT NOW, IT'S
OBVIOUS THAT THE GOVERNOR HAD A
P
PAY TO PLAY OPERATIONS GOING ON
IN THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE.
>> GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE ON
THE PERKOCO TRIAL.
THE JURY IS EXPECTED TO GET THE
CASE TODAY.
HE WAS ONE OF GOVERNOR CUOMO'S
TOP AIDS ALLEGED TO HAVE TAKEN
HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS
FROM STATE CONTRACTS IN AN
ALLEGED PAY FOR PLAY
ORGANIZATION.
IT'S OUTCOME COULD COMPLICATE
THE GOVERNOR'S BID FOR ANOTHER
TERM COME NOVEMBER AND ANY
FUTURE POLITICAL ASPIRATIONS, AS
CLOSING ARGUMENTS CONTINUED THIS
WEEK, PROSECUTORS TURNED THEIR
ATTENTION TO HIS EMAILS AND ONE
WORD IN PARTICULAR.
YOU MIGHT BE FAMILIAR IF YOU'RE
A FAN OF THE SHOW "SOPRANOS,"
THE WORD ZADIRI.
JENNIFER, AULD GOOD TO TALK TO
YOU, WE'LL GET TO THE ZIDI IN A
MOMENT.
WE'LL BUILD A LITTLE SUSPEND FOR
OUR AUDIENCE.
LET ME ASK YOU TO GIVE US A
SENSE OF THE NATURE OF THE
TRIAL.
IT WAS THE GOVERNOR'S VERY CLOSE
AIDE AND THREE PRIVATE CITIZENS,
PEOPLE HAVE THIS FIRM WHO
ALLEGEDLY WERE PAYING HIM FOR
FAVORS.
THE ALLEGATION IS HE ACCEPTED
BRIBES FROM THESE PEOPLE AND
EXCHANGE, HE DID OFFICIAL
ACTION, HE HELPED THEM GET
THINGS THEY WANTED FROM THE
STATE, REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT,
OTHER PROJECTS, THAT KIND OF
THING, HE WOULD SMOOTH THE WAY
FOR THEM, GIVE THEM BETTER
BENEFITS IN CONNECTION WITH
THOSE DEALS AND POCKET THE MONEY
FOR IT.
>> THESE DEALS TAKE WEEKS TO DO.
IS IT UNUSUAL FOR IT TO TAKE
THAT LONG?
>> IN THIS CASE THEY'RE SPENDING
A LOT OF TIME ESTABLISHING THE
MONEY TRIAL, SO THEY WENT
THROUGH HOW THE PAYMENTS
HAPPENED, HOW THEY WERE HIDING,
THEY ALSO WENT THROUGH EMAIL
COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN THE
PARTIES TO ESTABLISH EXACTLY
WHAT IT WAS THEY WERE DOING,
THAT'S WHERE THE ZIDI REFERENCE
COMES IN.
SO THERE'S LOTS OF DOCUMENTS AND
THOSE THINGS ALWAYS TAKE TIME.
>> LET'S TALK ABOUT THE ZIDI
REFERENCES IN THE EMAILS.
FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT FANS OF
THE HOBO SERIES "SOPRANOS" WHAT
WAS THE ROLE OF ZIDI IN THAT AND
HOW HAS THE PROSECUTION ALLEGED
IT TO HAVE COME INTO PLAY IN
THIS CASE?
>> THEY WERE REFERRING TO ZIDI
TO REFER TO MONEY, DIRTY MONEY,
BRIBES.
SO THE COOPERATOR THAT WAS IN
IT, THEY WERE USING ZIDI INSTEAD
OF THE BRIBE MONEY, WHEN THEY
SAID, HEY, FIND OUT WHERE THE
ZIDI IS, WHERE THE MONEY WAS IN?
UNOFFICIAL WAY AND THEY GOT IT
FROM "THE SOPRANOS" SO IT WAS A
JOKE.
>> I HAVE BEEN A PROSECUTOR AND
AS A PROSECUTOR YOU HAVE TO DEAL
WITH PEOPLE'S EXPECTATIONS AND A
LOT OF THEIR EXPECTATIONS COMES
FROM THEIR EXPOSURE TO TRIALS IN
TELEVISION OR THE MOVIES.
IF I PUT YOU IN THE PROSECUTOR'S
CHAIR, AND YOU HAD THESE EMAILS
TALKING ABOUT WHERE'S THE ZIDI,
HOW DO YOU PLAY THAT IN THE
COURTROOM?
HOW DO YOU USE THAT?
>> IT'S GREAT FOR A PROSECUTOR,
RIGHT, BECAUSE USUALLY CASES ARE
ACTUALLY PRETTY DRY IN REAL
LIFE.
>> ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU'RE
TALKING ABOUT MONEY TRAILS.
>> THEY DON'T HAVE ALL THE BELLS
AND WHISTLES.
YOU DON'T HAVE THE KIND OF ED
YOU HAVE ON CSI WITH THE
TECHNICAL STUFF AND YOU DON'T
USUALLY HAVE THE MOB REFERENCE
LIKE ZIDI.
I THINK WHEN YOU DO HAVE IT, YOU
USE IT BECAUSE THE JURORS ARE
GOING TO LIKE IT.
SO THAT MAKES IT KIND OF
EXCITING.
I THINK THEY WERE USING IT FOR
ALL IT'S WORTH BECAUSE THE
JURY'S GOING TO LIKE IT AND
THEY'RE GOING TO REMEMBER IT.
>> AS YOU KNOW, TRIALS DON'T
ALWAYS GO SMOOTHLY AS YOU WOULD
ANTICIPATE THEM TO DO.
AND HERE, THE PROSECUTION HAD A
SIGNIFICANT SPEED BUMP WHEN
THEIR COOPERATING WITNESS, MR.
HOWARD, WHO HAD PLED FOR CHARGES
AND WAS COOPERATING AND
TESTIFYING.
AND ALL OF A SUDDEN IN THE
MIDDLE OF THE TRIAL, THERE'S A
SIGNIFICANT BUMP IN THE ROAD FOR
THE PROSECUTION, EXPLAIN WHAT
HAPPENED.
>> SO MR. HOWE WAS ON THE STAND
TESTIFYING FOR THE DEFENDANT,
AND THE PRIVATE SECTOR FOLKS AND
ONE OF THE DEFENSE LAWYERS
CROSS-EXCROSS
EXAMINING, AND HE WAS A
PROSECUTOR FROM MY US, HE
EXPLAINED HOW AT ONE TIME AFTER
HE SIGNED HIS COOPERATION
AGREEMENT, HE HAD COMMITTED
FRAUD BY STAYING IN A HOTEL AND
LATER TELLING THE CREDIT CARD
COMPANY THAT HE DIDN'T AND HE
WANTED HIS MONEY BACK.
SO THAT WAS HUGE, THAT MEANS
HE'S COMMITTING A CRIME DURING
THE TIME HE WAS COOPERATING WITH
THE PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE, THEY
DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT IT.
AND HE ALSO TESTIFIED WHEN HE
SIGNED HIS AGREEMENT, THAT WAS
HIS BIG I'M COMING CLEAN MOMENT.
>> I'M GOING TO TURN MY LIFE
AROUND.
SO THAT UNDERMINES THAT AS WELL.
SO IT WAS A HUGE PROBLEM.
>> SO THE DEFENSE DID WHAT YOU
WOULD EXPECT, AND SAY THIS CASE
IS ALL ABOUT TODD HOWE, WE CAN'T
BELIEVE HIM ANYMORE.
HE GOES OUT AND HE COMMITS A
CRIME, WOW, HE'S IN THE MIDDLE
OF HIS EPIPHANY.
OF.
>> THEY SAY, LISTEN, TODD HOWE
HAS PROBLEMS, BUT YOU CAN
BELIEVE HIM WHEN HE TOLD YOU
WHAT HAPPENED BECAUSE IT'S
CORROBORATED IN OTHER WAYS,
THEY'RE POINTING TO THE MONEY
TRAIL EVIDENCE, THEY'RE POINTING
TO THE EMAIL EVIDENCE, THEY'RE
POINTING TO ALL THE OTHER
EVIDENCE IN THE CASE AND SAYING
YOU SHOULD BELIEVE TODD HOWE,
BUT IF YOU DON'T, THERE'S ALL
THIS OTHER EVIDENCE.
>> SO NONE OF THE FOUR
DEFENDANTS TAKE THE STAND TO
TESTIFY.
NOW I SUSPECT AND YOU KNOW THIS
AND IN THE MINDS OF JURORS, AND
CERTAINLY IN THE MIND OF THE
PUBLIC, SAY, HEY, WAIT A MINUTE,
IF THERE'S A LEGITIMATE
EXPLANATION FOR THIS CRIME, WHY
IN THE WORLD WOULDN'T HE GET ON
THE STAND AND PUT HISS HAND ON
THE BIBLE AND SWEAR TO TELL THE
TRUTH AND SAY THIS IS NOT WHAT
HAPPENED HERE.
WHY DON'T YOU PUT HIM ON THE
STAND?
>> THERE ARE A COUPLE OF
REASONS, ONE IS THAT THERE ARE
THINGS THAT COULD COME OUT IN
CROSS-EXAMINATION THAT WOULDN'T
BE GOOD FOR THE DEFENSE
NECESSARILY.
AND SO THEY COULD BE QUESTIONED
ABOUT ANOTHER TRIAL COMING UP IN
WHICH IT'S ALLEGED THAT THEY
WERE DOING ILLEGAL THINGS WITH
JOE AND TODD.
THE OTHER REASON OF COURSE IS
THAT THE DEFENDANTS THINK THEY
MADE A DIRECT HIT ON TODD HOWE
DURING THE TRIAL, SO I THAT'RE
KIND OF CALCULATING, IS IT WORTH
THE RISK PUTTING OUR DEFENDANT
ON THE STAND WHEN WE HAVEN'T MET
THE REASONABLE DOUBT BURDEN.
>> WHAT KIND OF IMPACT COULD IT
HAVE ON THE GOVERNMENT GOING
DOWN THE ROAD, AND WE DON'T KNOW
THAT THERE WILL BE OR SHOULD BE.
BUT WHAT WILL COME OF THIS?
>> THERE'S BEEN NO EVIDENCE THAT
HE KNEW ANYTHING ABOUT THIS OR
WAS INVOLVED IN ANY WAY AND IN
FACT IT HURTS HIM, SO YOU WOULD
THINK HE WOULD NOT BE HAPPY TO
FIND THIS OUT.
SO I DON'T THINK IT WILL AFFECT
HIM PERSONALLY, EXCEPT TO THE
EXTENT THAT PEOPLE THINK, YOU
KNOW, LISTEN, YOU CAN KIND OF
JUDGE YOURSELF BY WHO YOU
SURROUND YOURSELF AND IF HE
SURROUNDS HIMSELF WITH PEOPLE
LIKE THIS, IT DOES SAY SOMETHING
ABOUT HIM.
ONE THING ABOUT THE GOVERNOR IS
HE COMES OUT EVERY YEAR SAYING
HE'S FOR ETHICS REFORM, HE WANTS
TO STOP A KIND OF A PAY TO PLAY
CULTURE, EVERY YEAR HE SAYS
THAT, AND EVERY YEAR HE DOESN'T
ACTUALLY PUT THE WEIGHT OF HIS
OFFICE BEHIND THOSE STATEMENTS.
SO HE COULD BE DOING MORE AND I
THINK AFTER THIS TRIAL PEOPLE
WILL BE PRESSURING HIM TO
ACTUALLY TAKE ACTION ON THIS.
>> EVERY TIME YOU JOIN US, I CAN
SEE WHY YOU'RE SUCH A GOOD
TEACHER BECAUSE YOU EXPLAIN THIS
SO WELL FOR US.
YOU BE WELL AND WE'LL TALK SOON.
>> THANK YOU.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

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