For years, he was Gov. Andrew Cuomo's most loyal and trusted lieutenant. Now, Joe Percoco is a felon, convicted Tuesday on three counts of bribery and public corruption.
"This is both sad and shocking," the governor said to members of the news media Wednesday.
After long sidestepping the topic, Cuomo expressed sympathy for Percoco's family, in particular his young daughters.
But he also made a point of absolving himself and defending the integrity of his office, calling Percoco's behavior a total aberration.
"This was a two-year trial, investigation. There was absolutely no suggestion ever made that I had anything to do with anything," the governor said.
The trial did reveal some unsavory practices: the intimidation of Cuomo staffers who sought to leave the governor's office; the use of private email for state business; and cozy relationships with lobbyists and donors, renewing calls for ethics reform.
"The single best ethics reform, which makes everything else moot, is no outside income in government," Cuomo said.
But Percoco's bribe money took the form of income paid to his wife, Lisa, as well as consulting fees he took while off the state payroll, working on the Cuomo campaign. It was during that period Percoco may have illegally done campaign business out of his old state office.
Cuomo said he believed Percoco was working on the transition.
"There should be no other work done from a government office besides that transition work," Cuomo said. "And in the trial, there was a suggestion that there was, and that's a violation of the rules."
The question at trial, however, was not whether Percoco was doing campaign work; instead, he was convicted of doing government business to benefit companies that had paid him off.