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Former Cuomo Aide Is Getting His Legal Bills Paid by Someone
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Joseph Percoco

Summary: The former Cuomo aide accused of corruption has a very expensive legal team defending him, but the question of who is picking up the tab is continually being raised.

The former top aide for Governor Andrew M. Cuomo is getting his legal bills paid for, but no one is sure who is paying those bills. Joseph Percoco has been on trial for the last four weeks on a variety of corruption charges. The legal team for Percoco consists of a number of top-shelf lawyers, fighting to keep him out of prison.

  
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A legal team of white-shoe, top-dollar lawyers would easily cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Percoco is likely not paying the bill since just a few years ago he was “practically begging for bribes,” according to The New York Times. He is accused of accepting at least $315,000 in bribes from the co-defendants in exchange for acts that benefited their companies.

The issue of the legal bill has been a top topic for reporters but Percoco’s only comment to the inquiry, “Why is that your business? You should talk to my lawyer about it.” His top lawyer is Barry A. Bohrer, partner, and co-chairman of the white-collar defense group at his firm Schulte Roth & Zabel. He declined to comment on the question. Percoco has two other lawyers helping Bohrer, one of which is a former assistant U.S. attorney.

Percoco is no longer a government employee, having left the position in 2016, so as a private citizen, anyone could be paying his bills and it would be legal. Bohrer’s law firm could also be representing Percoco pro-bono.

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Samford University law professor William G. Ross, an expert on legal fees, believes that the total fees in a complex defense white-collar criminal case like this “could exceed a million dollars” since partners in New York law firms can charge upwards of $1,000 per hour. He also doubts that the law firm would donate their services. He said, “It would be unusual for a large firm to provide pro bono services for a white-collar defendant in a protracted case requiring a substantial investment of law firm resources.”

Percoco was referred to as a brother by Cuomo, causing some to wonder if Cuomo may be helping somehow with the bills. The two served together for decades back to when Cuomo led the federal housing department. Percoco managed Cuomo’s governor campaigns in 2010 and 2014 and was the executive deputy secretary in Albany for Cuomo.



Cuomo’s spokesman Richard Azzopardi says Cuomo is unaware of who is footing Percoco’s legal bills since Percoco has never approached him with any requests for finding someone to help fund the legal expenses. He left Cuomo’s office in January 2016 to be the vice president for the Madison Square Garden Company. He left that position roughly a year later in early 2017, several months after his indictment in September 2016. Madison Square Garden chief executive James Dolan is a major Cuomo donor, giving over $500,000 to Cuomo’s campaigns through various companies he oversees. Despite this connection, the Madison Square Garden Co. made it clear that they nor Dolan were paying the bills for Percoco’s legal defense.

Schulte, Roth & Zabel has been representing Percoco since Cuomo’s administration dissolved the Moreland Commission, prompting a federal investigation. Cuomo’s campaign committee paid the law firm $80,000 in 2016 for what they explained at the time was for Percoco’s legal bills. They have not paid the law firm since, according to records.

Who do you think is footing the bill for Percoco? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To read more about Cuomo, see these articles:

Photo: newsday.com



 

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