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Closing arguments set in trial of ex-aide to Gov. Cuomo

NEW YORK — Closing arguments are scheduled to begin Tuesday in the bribery trial of a former top aide to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Defense lawyers presented witnesses over three days to refute a month of evidence from prosecutors aimed at convincing jurors in Manhattan federal court that Joseph Percoco accepted more than $300,000 in bribes from three businessmen to treat them favorably.

Lawyers for the 48-year-old Percoco and the businessmen have maintained that they acted legally and appropriately.

On Monday, all four defendants confirmed to Judge Valerie Caproni that they had decided not to testify.

Closing arguments likely will focus on the credibility of Todd Howe, a lobbyist who was arrested after admitting he had violated his cooperation agreement with the government.

That admission, elicited by a defense lawyer, came after Howe, 57, spent days describing how he conspired with Percoco and the businessmen to create a lucrative relationship for everyone.

Howe said he hired Percoco in the late 1980s to work for then-Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo, Andrew Cuomo’s late father. Percoco then became so close to Andrew Cuomo that he ran his 2014 re-election campaign for governor.

At Mario Cuomo’s 2015 funeral, Andrew Cuomo described Percoco as “my father’s third son who sometimes I think he loved the most.” He also has likened him to a brother.

Howe has pleaded guilty to multiple charges, including bribery and corruption. The charges carry a potential for decades in prison if he does not win leniency through his cooperation deal.

Cuomo has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Jurors could begin deliberating later this week.