Star witness in Percoco trial arrested

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Howe said he canceled a charge for an October 26, 2016, stay at the Waldorf Astoria amid a series of nine sit-downs with authorities investigating Percoco's alleged "pay-to-play" scheme involving companies doing business with the state.

"You lied to your credit card company about staying at the Waldorf the very night that you had come to NY to see the government?" a defense lawyer, Daniel M. Gitner, asked Howe on cross-examination Thursday.

During blistering cross-examination Thursday, Todd Howe admitted that he tried defrauding a hotel about a month after he signed that agreement with prosecutors.

Prosecutors say their main witness in the bribery trial of a former top aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (KWOH'-moh) is expected to resume testifying Monday after his arrest for violating his co-operation deal. "You called your credit card company and lied about staying at the Waldorf the very night you were seeing the government?"

The former lobbyist also conceded the questioning in Manhattan federal court forced him to realize he'd violated the terms of his cooperation agreement with the feds.

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"I don't recall, but I'm sure if that's what you said I did, I'm sure I did", Howe replied at the time.

Then the lawyer asked whether he thought prosecutors would rip up the agreement or merely give him a stern lecture as they did when he diverted tens of thousands of dollars that he was supposed to put in escrow to pay debts of his choosing and other expenses.

A spokesman for interim Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman declined to comment.

When asked whether he had been lying to the credit card company, Howe agreed: "I believe so, yes".

Prosecutors often rely on witnesses whose credibility can be called into question.

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In some of the cases, prosecutions have ended in mistrials, largely because of jurors' concerns about the credibility of the witness.

Percoco is accused of pocketing some $300,000 in bribes.

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Howe, an old friend of Percoco's, has pleaded guilty to felony charges and has been cooperating with the government against Percoco and three executives of two firms, COR Development and Competitive Power Ventures, who are also on trial.

Prosecutors have been candid about the questions concerning Howe's credibility. They say Howe is telling lies in a desperate bid to avoid prison for crimes that carry a potential sentence of up to 130 years.

"He has lied to his employer, he has lied to the IRS and he's even lied to the defendants".

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