An Associated Press article examining the likelihood of Governor Cuomo or those in his administration facing criminal charges in the Moreland scandal, includes a noteworthy quote from prominent Albany attorney David Grandeau.
Grandeau stated that the likelihood of Cuomo facing charges is practically zero, but not because there is a lack of criminal or official misconduct. Rather, because the attorneys, including Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Albany District Attorney David Soares, already knew about the corruption and failed to take action.
Grandeau added, that they could “actually prosecute” the Cuomo administration if “any one of them had the stones.”
Via the Associated Press:
David Grandeau, an attorney and former state lobbying enforcer, said any meddling could expose the Cuomo administration to criminal charges of obstruction of governmental administration or official misconduct. There also is the possibility of civil violations under the state’s Public Officers Law, which prohibits officials from using their positions to secure “unwarranted privileges or exemptions” for themselves or others.
“But they’ll never get prosecuted,” Grandeau said, “because the people that would prosecute them were part of it.”
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Albany County District Attorney P. David Soares and nine other district attorneys were all directly involved with the commission that examined Albany’s pay-to-play political culture.
“Every one of them knew about it. They all know how to enforce state law and they wouldn’t do it,” Grandeau said. “There’s enough jurisdiction that if any one of them had the stones, the political stones, (they could) actually prosecute.”
In late July, the New York Times dropped the original bomb on the Cuomo administration, unearthing several sources who have corroborated stories that the Governor’s office interfered with the Moreland Commission from the onset. Top aides were even cited as demanding members of the ethics panel “pull back” subpoenas issued to groups close to the Governor.
Members of both parties have claimed that the Cuomo administration may have broken laws in their interference with the ethics commission, something that Cuomo laughed at previously.
As the heat surrounding the scandal was growing, Cuomo’s team tried to coordinate a defense of his office’ actions, with one aide even offering to write statements for his colleagues. The actions led federal attorney Preet Bharara to send the Governor a letter threatening him with witness tampering and obstruction of justice charges.
While not all legal experts agree that prosecutions for criminality can or will be executed, the Cuomo administration can’t rest easy quite yet.
The aforementioned report starts off with the question echoing the sentiments of the Governor himself – “How could he be accused of interfering with a commission that he created and appointed?”
One answer lies in the power that Cuomo and Schneiderman granted officials on the panel. Last week, Politico reported, as we have been doing for some time, that the Governor’s situation is fraught with more peril than some believe, partly due to the fact that 34 members of the Commission in which multiple sources have said the Governor interfered, were deputized.
Another area of legal issues the Associated Press points out:
One area where the legal experts agree Bhahara has jurisdiction: allegations that Cuomo could have obstructed justice by engineering a public relations campaign involving key commission members who could be federal witnesses.
In late July, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara threatened Cuomo via a letter, suggesting members of his administration could be charged with witness tampering or obstruction of justice. Cuomo allegedly manipulated several members of the panel by pressuring them to make positive statements about the supposed “independence” of the ethics panel.
A top aide to the Governor personally called several of the commissioner’s on the ethics panel and ‘encouraged’ them to make public statements in support of his boss. He also offered to write the statements for them, and suggested that the commissioners use private e-mails rather than New York state accounts.