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NEW YORK — A corporate executive was sentenced to 2½ years in prison Thursday for defrauding a New York state economic development program in a case that stretched up to the governor’s office.

Joseph Gerardi, 59, was sentenced in connection with the Buffalo Billion project, part of a prosecution that resulted in a six-year prison sentence earlier this year for Joseph Percoco, a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The Democratic governor wasn’t charged in the case and denied any knowledge of Percoco’s influence peddling. However, trial testimony presented an unflattering picture of the inner workings of his office.

U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni on Thursday decried public corruption as she announced Gerardi’s sentence, saying it should serve as a warning to those who want to cheat as they compete for contracts involving government funding.

“You must be purer than pure because the money you’re going to get comes from hardworking people,” Caproni said, alluding to taxpayers.

She also fined him $500,000 and said he’ll be subject to a forfeiture order that is yet to be determined.

Gerardi was a top executive at COR Development in the Syracuse area who helped secure a $100 million deal to build a factory and film studio in Syracuse as part of the state’s Buffalo Billion project to bring jobs to upstate New York. He was convicted at trial earlier this year of conspiracy, wire fraud and making false statements to federal officers.

Prosecutors said he bribed a senior official in the governor’s office in one scheme and conspired to rig contracts to steer large projects to his company. He was acquitted of the bribery scheme.

Print Headline: N.Y. exec gets 2½ years for fraud

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