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Trial Of Former Cuomo Aide Percoco To Begin Monday

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The corruption trial of Joseph Percoco, a former top adviser to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is set to begin Monday.

The case against Percoco will begin with jury selection. The trial is expected to last several weeks.

Percoco and several co-defendants have pleaded not guilty in a case that alleges bid-rigging and bribery related to state economic development projects. Percoco himself is accused of accepting more than $300,000 in bribes.

Prosecutors said he took a page from "The Sopranos" and used the code word "ziti" to refer to the bribes.

According to a federal complaint, Percoco took $322,000 in bribes from 2012 through 2016 to Syracuse-based COR Development and Competitive Power Ventures, an energy company looking to build a power plant in the Hudson Valley. Todd Howe, a consultant for the two companies and former Cuomo associate, set up bank accounts and a shell company to funnel bribes, including payments to Percoco's wife, Lisa, the complaint said.

The complaint said Howe pleaded guilty to several federal charges, including conspiracy to commit fraud, extortion, bribery and wire and tax fraud. He is now cooperating with federal authorities.

Also charged in the complaint are two executives at COR Development — Steven Aiello and Joseph Girardi — and three executives at LPCiminelli: Michael Laipple, Kevin Schuler and chief executive officer Louis Ciminelli, as well as Alain Kaloyeros, former president of SUNY Polytechnic Institute.

The charges stem from a federal investigation into the Buffalo Billion project, as well as Nano, an initiative effectively led by Kaloyeros that aimed to bring high-tech jobs to the upstate. The federal probe revealed a web of individuals and businesses tied to Cuomo that stand to make millions from the projects.

Percoco was once a top administration insider whom the governor likened to a brother.

Cuomo has not been accused of wrongdoing and says he knew nothing of the actions alleged by prosecutors.

But the trial could still create political challenges for the governor, who is seeking a third-term this fall and has been mentioned as a potential presidential candidate in 2020.

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

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