Cuomo In SCOTUS: A Bribery Case By Former Governor's Aid Taken By High Court

By Roberta Elliot | Sunday, 03 July 2022 22:45
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The Supreme Court will study corruption charges against a top aide to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a case that could have wide consequences for claims of bribery levied against private citizens.

At least four justices decided to hear arguments in Joseph Percoco v. United States, in which Percoco, who served as manager of Cuomo's 2014 re-election campaign, was sentenced to bribery charges and condemned to six years in prison, the Supreme Court announced Thursday. Because the former campaign manager was not working in a governmental capacity, a high court order in favor of Percoco would make it hard for claims of bribery against private citizens, even those with unfettered access to high-power political leaders, to stick.

Percoco was found guilty of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and solicitation of bribes and gratuities by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in September 2018. He was found not guilty of two other counts, including a charge of payments of bribes and gratuities.

When Cuomo assumed the governorship in 2011, he brought with him Percoco, whom he said his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, treated as a "third son." Andrew Cuomo called Percoco's conviction "a profoundly sad situation for me personally."

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Cuomo left amid tension from within his own party following a scandal Aug. 3, 2021, report from the state attorney general concluding he had sexually offended at least 11 women. Denying the charges of improper touching, he went against the political circumstances that led to his termination and promised a return to the public eye. No localities elected to pursue criminal charges against Cuomo in connection to the claims of sexual misconduct.

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The Supreme Court issued several high-profile rulings to close this year's term, including Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which overturned the decades-old precedent of Roe v. Wade that found a constitutional right to privacy extended to abortions.

In August 2021, New York mandated that all healthcare workers receive a COVID–19 vaccine. See 10 N. Y. Admin. Code §2.61 (2021). It did so to “stop the spread” of the then prevailing Delta variant of the COVID–19 virus. New York State Governor’s Office, Governor Cuomo Announces COVID–19 Vaccination Mandate for Healthcare Workers (Aug. 16, 2021).

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The State exempted employees from the mandate if vaccination would be “detrimental to [their] health.” §2.61(d)(1). However, the State denied a similar exemption to those with religious objections.

Consequently, those who qualified for the broad medical exemption simply had to employ standard protective measures and could keep their jobs. But those who objected for religious reasons would be fired, even if they took the same protective measures.

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