CPV opponents confront Percoco after court appeance

Pramilla Malick

Opponents of the power plant under construction in Wawayanda gave a former close aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo a perp walk he’s unlikely to forget as he left federal court in Lower Manhattan on Thursday after a brief appearance about the corruption charges he faces.

The former aide, Joe Percoco, was charged in September with soliciting bribes to help Competitive Power Ventures and pocketing $287,000 as a result, with the payments disguised mostly through a job that the company gave Percoco’s wife that paid $90,000 a year and required little work. A former CPV executive charged in the scheme, Peter Galbraith Kelly Jr., allegedly arranged the payments – referred to as “ziti” in Percoco’s emails, in homage to “The Sopranos” – after first wooing Percoco with fancy meals and a fishing trip in the Hamptons.

On Thursday, about a dozen activists from Orange County who staunchly oppose the CPV plant for environmental reasons traveled downtown to witness a court appearance by Percoco and hold a press conference. And after he left the courtroom, they let him know how they felt about his involvement in his project, berating him and chanting “Shame!” as he strode down the street with reporters and camera people mixed into the scrum.

“This is not a victimless crime, Percoco,” one CPV opponent said as the ensemble moved down the sidewalk in the rain, Percoco walking in silence under an umbrella. “You are guilty of polluting New York. You are guilty of polluting Orange County. You are guilty of polluting the world.” The confrontation continued until Percoco disappeared into a subway station.

Pramilla Malick, a Minisink resident and chairwoman of Protect Orange County, explained on Friday that the expressions of outrage – which began inside the courthouse – were purely spontaneous, not something the members of her group had planned.

“Here’s somebody who had a tremendous role in something that is impacting your life – adversely impacting your life – for so many years,” said Malick, who was a Democratic candidate last year for the state Senate seat that Republican John Bonacic holds. “To finally face that person, it was kind of an emotional thing.”

Malick said her group began speaking to Percoco inside the courthouse, “letting him know how much damage his actions have caused our community.” She said he disappeared into a bathroom for a long time. “I don’t think he was expecting us.”

Prosecutors allege that Percoco had agreed to help CPV secure an agreement with the state that would guarantee a buyer for the plant’s power and was expected to save the company about $100 million in development costs. Malick argues a wider investigation should be done to see if Percoco exerted undue influence anywhere else in the approval process.

 

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