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Government’s Star Witness In Cuomo Ex-Aide Trial Arrested

Karen DeWitt

The government's star witness in the bribery trial of a former top aide to Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was arrested shortly after testifying that he breached the terms of his cooperation agreement, authorities said Friday.

Todd Howe was taken into custody for violating his bail conditions, but the development was not expected to derail his continuing testimony in the trial of former Cuomo aide Joseph Percoco and others.

His arrest came in response to an order signed by a judge who wrote that the government notified him that the revocation of Howe's $100,000 bail was appropriate at this time.

Sometimes, the government keeps cooperating witnesses in custody to send a stern message that any lies from the witness stand will be dealt with severely.

Nicholas Biase, a spokesman for prosecutors, said no new charges were filed against Howe, who was taken into custody Thursday.

During cross examination Thursday, Howe admitted he had not informed the government that he tried to improperly recover the cost of a $600 luxury Manhattan hotel room just weeks after signing a cooperation deal in 2016 in which he promised not to commit any more crimes.

He also admitted that he failed to admit in a 2014 application for disability insurance that he had been convicted of fraud in 2010 for trying to dupe a bank into thinking he had deposited $45,000 when he had not.

The government has used Howe's testimony to prove Percoco was paid over $300,000 in bribes from three businessmen in exchange for helping them with state business.

Percoco's lawyer, Barry Bohrer, had promised jurors in his opening statement that they would find Howe to be too disreputable to trust his testimony. He said Percoco acted legally and appropriately.

Howe's lawyer, Richard Morvillo, declined comment. Howe was expected to appear in court later Friday.

Howe is scheduled to resume testimony Monday. After jurors left the courtroom Thursday, Judge Valerie E. Caproni said a court employee had overheard a juror joking about a mistrial.

Copyright The Associated Press 2018. All rights reserved.

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