Supreme Court throws out fraud charges in Albany scandals

In A couple of Consensus results In New York Governor Andrew M. The Supreme Court on Thursday again limited federal prosecutions of public corruption in cases involving criminals accused of fraud for activities during Cuomo’s administration.

One case concerns Joseph Percoco, Mr. A former aide to Cuomo has been charged with taking improper payments to benefit a Syracuse-area developer.

Another, Louis Ciminelli, the owner of a Buffalo construction company, was charged with fraud in the Buffalo Billion-related bid-rigging scandal, which Mr.

Recent judgments in a series of setbacks for litigants from courts Increasingly Doubt Federal charges of public corruption in state government.

In the first case, Percoco v. United States, no. 21-1158, Mr. The question is whether Percoco can sue under a federal statute that makes it a crime to deprive the government of “honest services” for the conduct that occurred. After he resigned from his government post to run the governor’s 2014 re-election campaign.

Mr. Percoco’s attorneys argued that the law only applies to people exercising government power, a power they said he did not have when he received the money. Advocates said the distinction was artificial.

Mr. About eight months after Bergoko left the government, Mr. Cuomo returned to government following his reelection.

Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing to seven members of the court, said the jury instructions in the case were flawed and that the appeals court should reconsider the matter.

The second case, Ciminelli v. United States, no. 21-1170, which prosecutors said was a conspiracy to commit wire fraud by tailoring claims for Buffalo development jobs, contracts Mr. Ciminelli’s Company.

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The prosecutors’ legal theory was that the defendants committed fraud by failing to disclose valuable information by depriving them of their right to “control” the use of government property.

When the case reached the Supreme Court, the government rejected the theory. When the justices heard the case in November it made for a grim argument, one focused on how and how badly the government was going to lose.

Writing for the court, Justice Clarence Thomas categorically stated that the “restrictive rights theory is false” and sent the case back to the Court of Appeal for further proceedings.

Judges do not always divide in the usual way in public corruption cases. In 2020, the court Overturned unanimously The convictions of two defendants stemmed from the so-called Bridgegate scandal, in which associates of Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, closed access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in 2013 to punish one of the governor’s political opponents. That was an abuse of power, the court ruled, but not a federal crime.

Similarly, in 2016, the court Overturned unanimously The conviction of Bob McDonnell, a former Republican governor of Virginia who accepted luxury goods, loans and vacations from a business executive. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing to the court, narrowed the definition of what kind of conduct would serve as the basis of a corruption case.

He said only formal and concrete government action would count. Mr. What McDonnell did, the chief justice wrote, was organize meetings and attend events with his benefactor.

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