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Gov.'s Chief Of Staff Testifies At Trial Of Former Cuomo Aide Percoco

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The first witness was under cross-examination Wednesday in the trial of Joseph Percoco, a former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

As WCBS 880's Peter Haskell reported, Cuomo Chief of Staff Linda Lacewell recounted an early-morning phone call from April 2016. Percoco was telling her that federal agents were searching his home.

Both Lacewell and Percoco were part of Cuomo's senior staff. Percoco also spoke to Cuomo at the time.

In 2014, Percoco had worked on the governor's reelection campaign. During that time, he told Lacewell he had done work for a developer who did business for the state and was paid by a third party.

Percoco claimed it was properly disclosed, but the government contends it was anything but proper. It argues that the developer paid Percoco bribes, and that in exchange, Percoco used his influence in the governor's office.

Lacewell also testified that Percoco admitted he had been paid by lobbyist Todd Howe, to which Cuomo said, "What?"

Howe will be the prosecution's key witness in the case. The defense has already called him a pathological liar.

In opening statements Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Boone Percoco acted out of greed and sold his powerful influence to businessmen willing to pay bribes.

He claims Percoco accepted over $300,000 in bribes, mostly in salary paid to his wife who was hired by a businessman who needed state permits to build an energy plant. He says $35,000 more came from real estate developers.

The prosecution claims Percoco abused his power and influence as Cuomo's right hand man, telling the jury that a call from Percoco was like a call from the governor.

Defense attorney Barry Bohrer told the jury that his client accepted no bribes and that Percoco is wrongfully prosecuted.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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