A former energy company executive was sentenced Tuesday to 14 months in prison after he admitted giving the spouse of one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top aides a low-show job.
Peter Galbraith Kelly Jr. was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni, who said she hoped to send a stern message to those who work in public affairs and deal with public officials.
“You have to play by the rules, even if your lobbyist and your government counterpart is urging you to cheat,” she said. “Few crimes are more serious than public corruption.”
Kelly pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in May after a jury deadlocked at trial. Kelly admitted hiring the wife of Joseph Percoco, a longtime aide of Cuomo, for a low-show job talking about power generation at schools in exchange for favorable treatment from state officials.
Cuomo was not accused of wrongdoing himself, but the trial that led to Percoco’s conviction earlier this year cast a negative light on the inner workings of his office. Percoco was sentenced to six years in prison.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in Manhattan said in a news release that Kelly admitted giving the job to a spouse of one of the most powerful men in Albany to ingratiate himself and his company with Percoco, who managed Cuomo’s 2014 re-election campaign.
“Many consider this type of behavior to be ‘the way things are done’ in government,” Berman said. “But our office does not, and neither does the court.”
The judge noted that Kelly made more than a half million dollars annually as a senior vice president of Maryland-based Competitive Power Ventures. She said he was likely to lose his license to practice law after his conviction.
Kelly apologized to his two grown sons, his wife and others in the crowded courtroom.
“I am deeply, deeply sorry,” he said.
Kelly, 55, of Canterbury, Connecticut, said he could not “adequately express my regret, shame and remorse.”
Besides ordering the prison term, Caproni also said he must pay $247,000 in restitution. The judge said that was the amount of money paid to Percoco’s wife, Lisa, that was beyond the estimated five hours she worked each week.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Janis Echenberg said Kelly told deliberate and repeated lies to fool his employer into hiring Percoco’s wife and then paid her through a consultant and disguised the source of the payments.
She said he also falsely told his employer that he had obtained an ethics opinion from Cuomo’s office approving of the hire of Percoco’s wife when no such opinion existed.