In a decision Thursday, May 11, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously quashed the fraud conviction of Joseph Percoco, a South Salem hamlet in the town of Lewisboro, who was sent to federal prison in 2018 on corruption charges.
Percoco, 54, was accused of accepting more than $300,000 in bribes from an energy company in 2014, after he had been suspended for eight months as Cuomo’s executive deputy secretary to manage his re-election campaign.
The bribe he accepted was intended to benefit Competitive Power Ventures, an energy company seeking to build a power plant in the Hudson Valley.
In 2018, he was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and sentenced to six years in prison.
However, the Supreme Court threw out Percoco’s conviction for conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
inside Supreme Court opinionJudge Samuel Alito wrote that Perkoko was convicted under jury instructions to determine whether he had a “special relationship” with the government and controlled government business while he accepted the bribe.
According to Alito, however, the instructions were “false” and “too vague” and did not properly define what Percoco allegedly did in violation of its “intangible right to serve honestly” to the government.
In his appeal, Percoco argued that because he was a private citizen while he was suspended from serving Cuomo, he could not be convicted of wire fraud.
Although the Supreme Court overturned his fraud conviction, the court disagreed with that argument.
“The court rejects the idea that a person who is not nominally in the public sector can never have the requisite fiduciary duty to the public,” the Supreme Court’s opinion reads.
In 2021, Percoco was transferred to a halfway house after serving his sentence at the Otisville Correctional Facility in Orange County, more than two years ahead of his scheduled release date of April 22, 2024.
The Supreme Court decision now remands the case for retrial.
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