Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “enforcer” and close friend is being investigated by federal prosecutors for potentially taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from private interests that had business before the state. Now the Post reports that Joe Percoco, the man the governor once referred to as “my father’s third son,” essentially received a 100% mortgage on his $815,000 home in South Salem, from lenders with close ties to the governor’s office.
According to the tabloid, in 2012 Percoco received an $800,000 “balloon” mortgage to purchase his family’s $815,000 house from a mortgage company co-owned by Abe Eisner, described as a “key Cuomo liaison to Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community.” Eisner traveled to Israel with Cuomo in 2014.
Months after Percoco’s mortgage deal, Eisner’s company, GFI Mortgage Banker, paid a $3.555 million settlement to the Department of Justice, after the DOJ alleged that “GFI engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination by pricing residential mortgage loans for qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers higher than for similarly-qualified non-Hispanic white borrowers between 2005 and 2009.”
The Post reports that by 2014, Percoco was unable to make the payments on his house (balloon mortgages require a giant “balloon” payment after several years) and refinanced with a different company to make fixed interest payments for five years.
2014 was also the year Percoco and his wife reported taking money—as much as $220,000—from private consultants while he was working as a campaign advisor to Governor Cuomo. Those private entities also began increasing their donations to the governor’s reelection campaign.
"When you leave state government you can work in the private sector and represent private sector companies. Yes, that's totally allowable,” Cuomo told reporters on Monday.
Percoco made $92,000 from Cuomo’s 2014 campaign, and was also given a $120,000 bonus.
Yet while the governor told reporters this week that Percoco was a “consultant” to him during that 2014 campaign, the Albany Times Union reports that those 17 payments totaling $92,000 were filed under “Wages,” a different designation from consulting fees, which are filed under “Consl.”
Even the bonus was listed as “other.”
These distinctions matter as federal authorities attempt to determine what kind of “consulting” Percoco was doing for companies that were connected to the state’s “Buffalo Billion” project and the construction of a natural gas-fired power plant in Orange County.
Percoco is currently an executive for Madison Square Garden, which Cuomo announced in January would be spared from demolition in the upcoming renovation of Penn Station.