Two Political Corruption Trials Unfold in Same NYC Courthouse

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Two criminal trials over allegations of high-level corruption in New York state were both drawing to a close Wednesday on the same floor atop a federal courthouse with dramatic views of the Manhattan skyline.

In a courtroom on one end of a marble-floored hallway on the 26th floor, a jury heard closing arguments in the bribery and extortion case against former state Senate leader and once-influential Republican Dean Skelos. At the opposite end in a second courtroom, jurors were already deliberating in the case against a former state university president and four developers charged with bid-rigging in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “Buffalo Billion” revitalization program.

It’s the same courthouse that saw a fall from power for former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was found guilty on corruption charges in May that he took kickbacks in exchange for legislative favors. Silver, a Democrat who’s still awaiting sentencing, and Skelos were among a trio dubbed the “three men in a room” in Albany, a nod to the longstanding practice of legislative leaders and the governor negotiating key bills behind closed doors.

There too in March, Joseph Percoco, a former top aide to Cuomo, was convicted on corruption charges that he received more than $300,000 in bribes. He’s also awaiting sentencing.

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