Former CPV executive pleads guilty

NEW YORK CITY, NY — Peter “Braith” Kelly, a former executive with Competitive Power Ventures (CPV), pled guilty on May 11 to fraud against CPV. According to a press release from U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, Kelly misrepresented that a top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Joseph Percoco, “had obtained state ethics approval for his wife to work at CPV,” when in fact no such approval existed.

Percoco was earlier convicted on charges of accepting bribes from CPV in the form of about $290,000 payments to his wife in a low-show job Kelly helped create. A jury at Percoco’s trial deadlocked on the charges against Kelly. Kelly then agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.  

Berman said, “Kelly was involved in a criminal scheme to bribe one of the most powerful men in New York in exchange for favorable treatment for his energy company. Today he pled guilty for his part in the scheme and now faces time in prison.”

The press release said, “Kelly ran monthly payments to Percoco and his wife through a consultant who worked for the energy company in order to disguise the source of the payments. Kelly also made sure that Percoco’s wife’s photograph and full name were not included in promotional materials for the energy company.”

CPV is awaiting the completion of the Valley Lateral Pipeline, which will feed natural gas from Pennsylvania through the Millennium Pipeline to the power plant. The gas will also run through the compressor station being constructed near Eldred.

An air-quality permit issued by the New York State Department of Transportation expires in July of this year, and some local officials, including Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, Assemblyman James Skoufis and Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus, have joined Riverkeeper in calling for the permit not to be renewed.

Not surprisingly, CPV opponents have been critical of Kelly’s agreement to plead guilty to a single charge. Pramilla Malcick, chair of Protect Orange County, issued a statement that called the agreement a bad “back-door deal” that “makes a mockery of the judicial system.” She expressed outrage that Kelly never admitted the harm he caused his victims, the residents of Orange County.

Since the plant began a testing operation using diesel fuel in February, hundreds of residents have filed complaints about health issues such has nosebleeds and headaches.

As the scandal broke regarding bribery and CPV, the company upped the amount of lobbying money it spent. According to the website Eyes on the Ties (tinyurl.com/ycovsut9/), “As the Percoco scandal loomed, CPV significantly ramped up its lobbying efforts in New York State and DC. Whereas it spent $100,909 on lobbying in 2016, it spent $430,000 in 2017.”

CPV also hired Michael McKenna, a member of the transition team of President Donald Trump, as a lobbyist. The Eyes on the Ties report says, “While McKenna was lobbying FERC [the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] on behalf of CPV, FERC overrode New York State’s denial of the Millennium Valley Lateral Pipeline, which will service the CPV plant with out-of-state fracked gas. CPV has paid McKenna—who has also lobbied for the Koch Brothers and Southern Company—$630,000 since 2013 to lobby.”

 

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