Feds: Former Cuomo aide was inside man for power plant

25 Sep 2016 | 04:03

By Becca Tucker
— A former right hand man to Governor Andrew Cuomo received $287,000 in bribes from the energy company building a power plant in Orange County, in exchange for help greasing the wheels, a federal criminal complaint charges.
The corruption probe, released Thursday, accuses Peter Galbraith Kelly Jr., CPV’s lobbyist and public relations person, with bribing former Cuomo aide Joseph Percoco. Percoco is charged with soliciting and accepting bribes in return for taking official action to benefit Competitive Power Ventures. CPV is at this moment constructing the power plant in Wawayanda, which will burn fracked gas.
Kelly and Percoco are among nine men charged with “wide ranging crimes of corruption in New York,” said Preet Bharara, United States attorney for the Southern District of New York.
The power plant, already the subject of growing weekly protests at the site, has been buying influence since 2010 by taking top officials on a weekend fishing trip, lending its private jet to transport the governor and staff, and treating Percoco to dinners in the city, according to the 79-page complaint.
Then in 2012, Percoco asked Kelly to hire his wife, which the company eventually did, paying her $7,500 a month to act as a “consultant.”
In return, Percoco allegedly helped the power company secure a state contract worth approximately $100 million, intervening with the Department of Environmental Conservation.
A vocal band of locals, already suspicious of oversights in CPV’s environmental reviews, wants a moratorium on the power plant’s construction.
“Until an independent and proper entity reviews the entire process, all the filings, all the emails, all the science, the public cannot have confidence that CPV’s state approvals were earned, not bought,” said Michael Sussman, a lawyer who’s been representing opponents of the plant, said at a press conference Friday.
“If you look at the level of access that these companies have to key decision makers, and then you compare that to the complete disregard and lack of access the public has to those same decision makers, you have to ask yourself why,” said Pramilla Malick, of Protect Orange County, which has been fighting the project for years.
Malick, who is running for New York Senate, will stand trial at the end of the month for blocking the construction site in an act of civil disobedience.
“We went to all these elected officials, pleading with them to at least look at the issues that we were talking about, and they didn’t even want to look at them,” Malick said at the press conference. “So my big question is, why?”