By Chris Bragg and Matthew Hamilton Thursday, September 22, 2016
The complaint alleges that Howe arranged for more than $315,000 in bribe payments to go to Percoco and his wife, Lisa Toscano-Percoco, who is not named in the complaint. Howe and Percoco repeatedly referred to the alleged bribe money as "ziti," the complaint says — a code word for money apparently lifted from an episode of HBO's mafia drama "The Sopranos," Bharara said.
The investigation is the most serious corruption crisis to face Cuomo's administration, which since its inception in 2011 has pointed to the words printed on a custom-made pin given to all staffers: performance, integrity and pride. Not only is Percoco, who left the administration in 2015 to take a job as senior vice president for the Madison Square Garden Co., a longtime friend of Cuomo — once described by the governor as "my father's third son" — the case touches on two of his hallmark upstate initiatives: the Buffalo Billion and nanotechnology-driven development.