May 11, 2018 / 10:00 PM / in 10 months

Former energy executive pleads guilty over hire of ex-New York governor's aide

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former New York energy company executive on Friday pleaded guilty to hiring the wife of a former aide to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in an effort to cultivate a relationship with the aide and lying to his company about it, two months after a jury could not reach a verdict.

Peter Galbraith Kelly, who was an executive at energy company Competitive Power Ventures, entered his plea to one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud before U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan.

Kelly admitted that he gave a part-time job to Lisa Percoco, wife of former Cuomo aide Joseph Percoco in part “to further my relationship with Joe.” He said he lied to his company that he had an ethics opinion backing up the hire.

“I knew what I was doing was wrong,” Kelly said.

Percoco was found guilty in March by a Manhattan jury of accepting bribes from Kelly and from Steven Aiello and Joseph Gerardi, founders of the real estate company Cor Development.

Cuomo, a Democrat who faces re-election this year, has not been charged with wrongdoing.

Kelly, Aiello and Gerardi were tried alongside Percoco. Aiello was convicted of one count of conspiracy, while Gerardi was acquitted. The jury said it was deadlocked on the charges against Kelly.

Prosecutors said that Kelly bribed Percoco by giving his wife a mostly no-show job that paid $90,000 a year for three years in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to win favorable treatment from state officials for two power plant projects.

They said Aiello and Gerardi paid bribes through shell companies to get favorable treatment for development of a parking lot.

Aiello and Gerardi are expected to face a second trial later this year on charges that they took part in bid-rigging involving a billion-dollar development project in Buffalo, New York. Alain Kaloyeros, former president of the State University of New York’s Polytechnic Institute, also faces charges at that trial.

Kelly’s plea came just minutes after former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was found guilty of corruption charges following a trial before Caproni.

The cases against Percoco and Silver were among a series of high-profile corruption prosecutions launched by former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

Former state Senate leader Dean Skelos, a Republican, was also convicted of corruption charges, but like Silver, he had his verdict overturned on appeal. Prosecutors have said they plan to try him again.

(Corrects headline and paragraphs 1 and 3 to state that Kelly pleaded guilty to lying to his company, not to bribery.)

Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler

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