ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he has met with federal authorities about the corruption case against a former top aide and close family friend — and acknowledged he could be called as a witness should the matter go to trial.
Cuomo said the meeting with investigators from the office of Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara took place following the September announcement of criminal charges against his former aide Joseph Percoco and several other men, including a former State University of New York Polytechnic Institute president.
“I have talked to them about the case they’re bringing, the case that they brought,” the governor told reporters on Thursday.
Percoco — whom the governor once called a “third son” to his late father, Mario — was accused of pocketing bribes by shaking down a Maryland-based energy company and a Syracuse development firm in pay-to-play schemes.
“It was in preparation for Joe’s case, in preparation for the case that they were indicting against the nine defendants,” Cuomo said.
The governor noted that he was not under oath during the meeting, which came after the case was made public.
Asked if he thought he’d be called as a witness, the governor said: “I could be. I haven’t envisioned it. No one has suggested that. I think the question would be more it’s up to the nine defendants who they call in their defense, so you don’t really know.”
The Sept. 22 criminal complaint rocked the state capital and tarred Cuomo’s signature “Buffalo Billion” revitalization project.
Percoco, who now works for Madison Square Garden, is charged with shaking down $315,000 in bribes from the power company and a Syracuse developer, and the feds say he imitated mobsters from HBO’s “ The Sopranos” by referring to the payoffs as “ziti.”
“OK. will deal with it after I get my ziti!” Percoco allegedly wrote in a 2014 email to former Cuomo aide-turned-lobbyist Todd Howe, who has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the feds.
In addition to the allegations against Percoco, former SUNY Polytechnic Institute President Alain Kaloyeros is accused of rigging bids for a $750 million “Buffalo Billion” contract and two other development contracts in Syracuse worth $105 million.