The government's star witness took the stand again Tuesday in the corruption trial of former top Gov. Andrew Cuomo aide Joe Percoco, just days after he was arrested.
The trial took a surprising turn last week when star witness Todd Howe was arrested in his hotel room, just hours after making an incriminating admission on the witness stand. But back on the stand Tuesday, Howe tried to give an innocent explanation for it all.
Howe was forced to admit under cross-examination last week that he tried to defraud his credit card company by falsely denying a stay at the Waldorf Hotel, potentially violating his cooperation agreement with the government.
But Howe testified Tuesday that he never intended to deceive anyone. He said he did not remember if he had stayed at the Waldorf when he contacted his credit card company months after-the-fact, and that he was disputing the charge but not denying it.
Howe remains jailed, although he was allowed to wear a suit on the stand Tuesday rather than prison attire, per the prosecution's request.
Percoco is accused of taking more than $300,000-worth of bribes from three business executives, with Howe as the alleged middleman.
An FBI agent testified Tuesday that during a 2014 interview in a separate case, Percoco said he never used his personal email for state business, a claim contradicted by the evidence at trial. He also described his role in the Cuomo administration as "the guy with the hammer."
Howe is expected back on the witness stand Wednesday. It is still unclear if his cooperation agreement with the government will remain in effect.