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Real estate executive Cotton joins those urging leniency for ex-Cuomo aide Percoco: "it is hard to imagine the crime... being a reality"

Awaiting the sentencing of former gubernatorial aide Joe Percoco, who was convicted in March on three federal charges of conspiracy to commit honest-services fraud, conspiracy to commit honest-services wire fraud, and solicitation of bribes and gratuities, "Family, friends, rabbis and lobbyists urge leniency," as Politico 7/19/18 reported.

(The sentencing was scheduled for August 10 but has since been postponed until Sept. 20, which just happens to be after the Democratic primary election, which protects incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo.)

Among them was former gubernatorial aide Ashley Cotton, who later went to city government and then Forest City Ratner/Forest City New York, leaving this past January for the new firm L&L MAG but still serving as p.r. spokesperson for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park.

Though Cotton acknowledged that "I know that Joe has been convicted," in her letter (bottom) she called Percoco "the hardest working, most loyal and dedicated colleague I have ever known," who helped numerous others and herself before he helped himself.

She wrote, in conclusion:
"To sum up, it is hard to imagine the crime Joe has been convicted of being a reality. Everything I know about Joe makes me think his conviction is just not possible. His number one priority has been protecting his family and the idea of him being away from home for any period of time is nothing short of devastating for [his wife] and his daughters. In addition, he has done nothing in our entire professional life together to jeopardize or tarnish his personal integrity and reputation, or the reputation of the Cuomo family."
An alternate view

The Albany Times-Union, in a 7/23/18 editorial about headlined Not punishment enough, criticized those pleading for leniency for both Percoco and former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, since then sentenced to seven years in prison, and predicted that similar pleas would surface for former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, another convicted politician.

The editorial concludes:
These are not people unwittingly swept up in corruption. Mr. Silver and Mr. Skelos, both attorneys, for years protected a system in which lawyer-legislators were able to hide their private clients and dealings from public disclosure. Mr. Percoco milked a pay-to-play system for all it was worth, with code words for bribes and skillful use of campaign finance rules that allow huge sums of money to flow into politicians' campaign accounts.
No, they're not murderers, but each did his part to help kill public trust in government. To portray them as victims of anything but their own greed, or to suggest that the disgrace of getting caught is somehow punishment enough, is the height of chutzpah.
The Times Union yesterday reported, in Emails, records raise questions on Cuomo donations, donor's dividends, a dubious role for Percoco:
Hal Teitelbaum needed quick action from New York's government: the approval of an application allowing one of New York's fastest-growing health care companies, Crystal Run, to keep expanding.
In the fall of 2011, Crystal Run's CEO was facing what's often a lengthy, bureaucratic process. His path, however, smoothed out considerably after the CEO wrote a $25,000 check — drawn from Crystal Run's corporate funds — to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's re-election campaign. Teitelbaum soon had a direct line to one of New York's most powerful people, top Cuomo aide Joe Percoco, who according to emails obtained by the Times Union quickly helped solve the problem
Part of a pattern

It's not surprising for friends, colleagues, and business associates to go to bat for those facing sentencing.

As I wrote in April 2014, I thought real estate mogul Bruce Ratner wrote a shameless letter calling for leniency in the sentencing of disgraced charitable CEO William Rapfogel of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, who Wayne Barrett described as "reverse Robin Hood for poor Jews... who pocketed $3 million and was caught with $420,000 in cash."

Cotton's background: the Cuomo connection

Cotton's letter, by the way, fills out her resume a little more than previously reported:
I work as a Managing Director at the real estate development company L&L MAG and worked with Joe in my capacity on Governor Cuomo’s campaign team and Office of Attorney General staff from 2003 through 2009. I first worked for Governor Cuomo after his 2002 campaign for Governor of New York as his only employee for many years. I then helped to run the team and campaign for Attorney General and finally worked in that government office as First Deputy Director of Intergovernmental affairs. After I left the official staff I stayed involved with the Cuomo team for many years, including returning for the successful Governor’s campaign in 2010 as a volunteer for a few weeks.
So she volunteered for the campaign in 2010, when she was working for the city? No wonder Forest City hired her in 2012.

Cotton's letter

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