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    SCOTUS Just Delivered Huge Ruling In Cuomo Case

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    Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the conviction of Joseph Percoco for bribery. erstwhile Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s erstwhile advisor was Percoco. This judgment imposes additional restrictions on federal prosecutors, limiting their ability to pursue corruption prosecutions.

    According to Reuters, Joseph Percoco, the executive deputy secretary of Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, gained the support of the highest court. In 2016, charges were filed against Percoco as a consequence of a federal corruption investigation that targeted Albany and sought to combat government corruption.

    Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the court that in the Percoco case, the jury had to “determine whether he had a ‘special relationship’ with the government and had ‘dominated and controlled’ government business.” “We conclude that this is not the proper test for determining whether a private person may be convicted of honest-services fraud, and we, therefore, reverse and remand for further proceedings.”

    In 2018, Percoco was convicted of soliciting $315,000 in gratuities and sentenced to six years in prison. In exchange for bribery, Percoco allegedly assisted two corporate clients of Albany lobbyist Todd Howe who were seeking state advantages and business opportunities.

    With Thursday’s decision, a conservative majority of 6 to 3 on the Supreme Court once again restricted prosecutors in political corruption cases.

    In a concurring opinion, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas criticized Congress for drafting a regulation that lacked clarity regarding what constitutes honest services frauds or corruption.

    “Under our system of separated powers, the Legislative Branch must do the hard work of writing federal criminal laws. Congress cannot give the Judiciary uncut marble with instructions to chip away all that does not resemble David,” Gorsuch argued.

    “Doubtless, Congress had high and worthy intentions when it enacted [the law]. But it must do more than invoke an aspirational phrase and leave it to prosecutors and judges to make things up as they go along. The Legislature must identify the conduct it wishes to prohibit. And its prohibition must be knowable in advance — not a lesson to be learned by individuals only when the prosecutor comes calling or the judge debuts a novel charging instruction. Perhaps Congress will someday set things right by revising [the law] to provide the clarity it desperately needs. Until then, this Court should decline further invitations to invent rather than interpret this law.”

    Not for the first time, this has occurred. According to Reuters, the 2020 decision to overturn the guilty verdicts of two of former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s aides in the “Bridgegate” scandal and the 2016 decision to overturn the bribery conviction of former Republican Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell serve as precedents.

    “The Supreme Court heard arguments in November in the case involving Percoco and a related one involving former construction company executive Louis Ciminelli. The Supreme Court also overturned Ciminelli’s conviction on Thursday,” according to a Reuters report:

    Percoco was convicted alongside an executive at a real estate developer, Steven Aiello, who prosecutors said orchestrated bribes to Percoco. Howe pleaded guilty and cooperated with investigators. Prosecutors said Percoco referred to the payments as “ziti,” a type of pasta that became a term for money by characters in “The Sopranos” mobster TV series. CONTINUE READING…

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