New York

Judge Tells Jurors to Keep Trying at Joseph Percoco Trial

Prosecutors say Joseph Percoco, a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, accepted over $300,000 in bribes from the businessmen who needed help from the state

What to Know

  • Todd Howe was taken into custody for violating his bail conditions, but the development was not expected to derail his continuing testimony
  • He is the star witness in the trial of former Cuomo aide Joseph Percoco and others
  • During cross examination, Howe admitted he had not informed the feds he tried to improperly recover the cost of a $600 luxury hotel room

Jury deliberations in the bribery trial of a former top aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo hit a wall Tuesday when the foreman said jurors can only agree to disagree and three jurors tried to quit.

Prospects for a mistrial for Joseph Percoco and three businessmen rose considerably when four notes arrived at noontime from a jury that had been largely quiet and seemingly proceeding smoothly until beginning its fourth day of work Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni ordered jurors to resume their work. She told them she would take up issues when they were finished for the day regarding jurors who wanted to be removed from the panel.

"We cannot come to a unanimous consent," wrote the jury foreman. "We are largely divided in opposing views. The only thing we seem to agree on is that we cannot agree."

For six weeks, jurors had mostly been listening to evidence the government presented to prove its claim that Percoco, a longtime confidante and top aide to the Democratic governor, had elicited and accepted more than $300,000 in bribes from the businessmen who needed his help with state business.

Prosecutors made much of Percoco's use of the word "ziti" in emails to claim he knew he was accepting bribes. The term was used in the HBO mob drama "The Sopranos."

But defense lawyers said there was no evidence to show that any bribes were made or Percoco did anything unusual to help the businessmen.

Cuomo has not been accused of wrongdoing.

The deadlock claimed by jurors came as jurors wrote separate notes saying their personal hardships had become too great to overlook.

"I believe I cannot do this anymore!" wrote one juror.

"I regret to say I can no longer continue after today," wrote another juror.

That juror cited personal circumstances and the impasse, saying: "We have some very fundamental differences and nobody wants to compromise our own beliefs and/or process."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Janis Echenberg recommended one juror be excused and replaced with an alternate juror.

The judge, though, said she was not inclined to embrace that option because it would require restarting deliberations, possibly after a storm on Wednesday interrupts deliberations again.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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