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Flu virus slows trial of Cuomo's former top aide

Karen DeWitt

The flu epidemic is hitting the corruption trial of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former top aide, Joe Percoco, with proceedings delayed for a day and a half because a key defense attorney has come down with the virus.

The judge and the prosecution and defense attorneys in the bribery case of Percoco and three upstate businessmen met Monday to discuss when the trial can resume.

Part of the proceedings focused on telephone calls to attorney Daniel Gitner, who was sick at home with the flu, to inquire what medications he is taking and whether he is running a fever.   

Judge Valerie Caproni, concerned that the trial was already dragging on too long, said she did not want the lawyer infecting others on the legal teams or in the jury. Caproni, saying she was drawing on the advice of her mother, who was a nurse, instructed Gitner not to come back to the courtroom until he was fever-free for two days.

Gitner is part of the defense team for Robert Galbraith Kelly, Competitive Power Ventures vice president and codefendant in the trial. They wanted to delay the trial until Wednesday, but compromised with the judge on a 1 p.m. Tuesday start.

When the jury does come back on Tuesday afternoon, they will be told that the prosecution’s chief witness, Todd Howe, who already has pleaded guilty to eight felonies, is now in jail.

Howe was arrested last Thursday evening after he revealed on the witness stand that he had violated the terms of his cooperation agreement with the government and had committed another crime, trying to defraud his credit card company over a $600 charge for a hotel stay at the Waldorf.

Prosecutors won permission for Howe to continue to wear a suit while testifying, and not prison attire.

At the end of the court hearing, Caproni instructed everyone to wash their hands.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.