As the major corruption trial of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo aide Joseph Percoco comes to a close, another one is starting on Long Island. The trial of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, his wife, Linda Mangano, and former Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto had its opening arguments this week. Prosecutors said Mangano “sold himself” to maintain his lavish lifestyle. Their key witness, restaurateur Harendra Singh, has admitted to bribing Mangano as well as trying to bribe New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who may be called as a witness. Percoco’s trial didn’t put the governor on the stand, but the mayor may not be so lucky. That and more in this week’s headlines.
Guilty as charged
After an eight-week trial and fears that a deadlocked jury would result in a mistrial, former senior Cuomo administration aide Joseph Percoco was found guilty on three fraud and corruption charges. Next comes his sentencing in June, which will likely involve jail time. Cuomo was not accused of wrongdoing and was never called as a witness, but testimony from the trial may stain his record as it made public some of the darker corners of his administration. He called Percoco’s behavior an “aberration” on Wednesday and maintained that all 68 days Percoco spent at an executive office while working on Cuomo’s re-election campaign was just part of his “transition.” But many still think the verdict will cause substantial damage, if not in his upcoming gubernatorial race, then if and when he seeks national office.
Death of a congresswoman
Rep. Louise Slaughter died on Friday after suffering a fall at her home in Washington, D.C. The the long-serving Rochester-area Democrat, who was known nationally for supporting abortion rights and who played an important role in the passage of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, was 88 years old. “The ferocity of her advocacy was matched only by the depth of her compassion and humanity,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, a fellow New York Democrat. “Her passing will leave a gaping hole in our hearts and our nation.” Gov. Andrew Cuomo will decide when to call a special election to fill the vacancy in the Democratic-leaning district.
They’re not gonna take it
Thousands of students across the country walked out of class on Wednesday to demand action on gun violence one month after a school shooting in Florida left 17 people dead. In New York City, about 100,000 students from city schools joined the nationwide protest, carrying signs, chanting and calling for reform. Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed students in Brooklyn, while Cuomo attended a Manhattan school’s walkout and even took part in a so-called “die-in.”
A deadly helicopter crash
A tourist helicopter crashed into the East River a week ago, killing five passengers. The incident has reignited a debate over whether tourist helicopter flights should be banned over Manhattan. Federal investigators are looking into the use of harnesses in photo flights, since the passengers may have been unable to escape the very things meant to keep them safe. Records also revealed that the company that chartered the helicopter has been involved in two other crashes in the past 11 years.
The budget dance continues
With two weeks until the state budget deadline, the Assembly and state Senate have each passed their own budget resolutions. Taxes and gun control measures appear to be two of the major sticking points. The Democratic-controlled Assembly has proposed a tax on millionaires that the Republican-controlled state Senate doesn’t want. The state Senate GOP wants to help schools hire armed police officers, which leaders in the Assembly oppose. The Assembly plan would also put the burden of congestion pricing solely on cabs and for-hire vehicles, while the state Senate’s budget may present an obstacle to speedy New York City Housing Authority building repairs.
MTA taken to court
Federal prosecutors joined a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority this week. Geoffrey Berman, the newly appointed U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said the MTA violated federal law by not making a recently renovated Bronx subway station accessible to people with disabilities. The ongoing lawsuit was filed in 2016 by disability advocates, who demanded that elevators be installed at the station.
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