Feds probe developer, engineer’s payments to ex-Cuomo aide

Firms gave Joseph Percoco at least $70,000

Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Federal officials are investigating whether some $70,000 paid to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former aide turned Madison Square Garden executive led to special treatment for a developer and civil engineering firm.

Financial filings show that COR Development Co. and CHA — companies involved with state-funded projects in upstate and Central New York — paid Joseph Percoco at least $70,000 in 2014.

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During this time, Percoco was working for the governor’s re-election campaign, the Wall Street Journal reported. Simultaneously, CHA (formerly known as Clough, Harbour & Associates LLC) upped its campaign contributions to the governor, donating $160,000 between 2013 and 2014, compared to a paltry one-time $1,000 donation in 2010, the newspaper reported. COR contributed $187,500 in 2013, an increase from 2012 when it donated $60,000.

CHA is the lead architect and engineer on the RiverBend, a major redevelopment of project in Buffalo. COR is building a center for light manufacturing for SUNY Polytechnic Institute. Cuomo said on Monday that Percoco, when he served as the governor’s campaign manager, told him he had consulting agreements with outside companies but he never told the governor the names of the companies. Percoco, after serving as Cuomo’s executive deputy secretary for five years, was named senior vice president at Madison Square Garden in late 2015.

The newspaper reported Percoco has also been working behind the scenes for the governor in his new role, including during the most recent state budget talks and at an event where the governor announced his plans for the redevelopment of Penn Station. One of the design options in the plan includes removing Madison Square Garden’s theater, but makes no mention of relocating the entire arena. [WSJ] — Kathryn Brenzel