While his former assistant principal is the one facing a jury, Governor Cuomo will have a firm footing when a highly successful corruption trial begins on Monday, which experts say threatens to paralyze a 2020 offer for the White House. 19659002] Joseph Percoco, an old friend of Cuomo's that the governor once compared to a brother, is accused of taking more than $ 315,000 in "pay to play" bribes from companies seeking millions of dollars in business with the state.  Cuomo can not avoid being contaminated by the trial in Manhattan federal court because "they are going to be talking about actions taken while Mr. Percoco was employed in the campaign and in the state government," said the Albany Law School professor Christine Chung  "You can not just say:" This has nothing to do with me, "he said.
"Even at the end of the day, if there is no conviction here [Cuomo] it will have to be." deal with a continued focus on public and corrupt integrity "
In addition to more than 11 million pages of records, the federal arsenal includes the former member of a pressure group turned into a witness Cooperator Todd Howe and emails in those that he and Percoco supposedly referred to payments as "ziti" – a code word for money that prosecutors say they drew from an episode of HBO's mafia drama "The Sopranos."
"This is a serious emotional problem for the governor, because Percoco was like a family, "said veteran Democratic politician Hank Sheinkopf. " This is not a relationship yesterday. This is a lifelong relationship. "
Blair Horner of the Public Interest Research Group in New York – who served as special advisor to Cuomo when he was the state's attorney general – said the Percoco trial" is not good news for the governor, it does not matter how you cut it. "
" The story that is told about how the government works will not be beautiful, "he said.
" Prosecutors will at best paint an unpleasant picture of how politics is done in New York, and that influence peddling takes place. "
And regardless of the outcome, Horner said it could mean problems for Cuomo, who is seeking reelection in November and is considered a presidential candidate.
"He will still have to deal with many who argue that New York is one of the most corrupt states in the country," he said.
Cuomo has not been involved in the case, but prosecutors plan to present evidence that Percoco he organized contributions to the Cuomo campaign to help his own ability to receive "bribes in exchange for useful state action."
The feds claim that those donations are "important and relevant" to the case, even though They were not illegal or part of a quid pro quo that involves the governor.
During a Sunday press conference at the Statue of Liberty, Cuomo was asked if he would testify at the trial or if he was concerned about any facts that might arise. .
"Not to both," he said.
The Percoco trial is among several scheduled this year for alleged corruption in Albany, including the new trials of ex
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (Republican for Long Island), whose unrelated convictions were rejected due to a ruling by the US Supreme Court that acquitted former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.
Percoco is being tried by three other defendants, including Syracuse developers Steven Aiello and Joseph Gerardi, who also face a second test in May that involves Cuomo's "Buffalo Billion" economic revitalization program.
The defendants in that case include Alain Kaloyeros, former president and CEO of SUNY Polytechnic Institute, who is accused of manipulating bids for a $ 750,000 contract related to that project and $ 105 million in contracts for a film studio and a manufacturing plant near Syracuse.