ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A new report claims Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his coronavirus task force are being investigated by the FBI and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn over his administration’s handling of the coronavirus and New York nursing homes.
NEWS10 ABC has reached out to officials for confirmation on the reported investigation. The spokesperson for the FBI field office in Albany declined to comment. We have also reached out to the US Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York for comment. We have yet to hear back.
Gov. Cuomo’s top aide Rich Azzopardi sent NEWS10 the following statement:
“As we publicly said, DOJ has been looking into this for months. We have been cooperating with them and we will continue to.”Rich Azzopardi, Aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo
According to ABC News, “the full scope of the investigation is not immediately clear though the sources said there was a particular interest in nursing homes.”
The Cuomo Administration has been under fire for several months about its handling of nursing homes during the pandemic. Much of the criticism surrounds a March 25 order that sent recovering coronavirus patients back to nursing homes and may have significantly increased the number of deaths.
In addition, a January report by the New York Attorney General’s Office found the New York State Department of Health may have undercounted the number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes by as much as 50%.
Calls for an investigation into nursing homes only intensified after a report published by the New York Post claimed Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa said the administration “froze” out of fear that the true numbers would be “used against them” by federal prosecutors from then-Pres. Donald Trump’s Department of Justice.
Critics also suggested that by stalling the release of the true number of deaths, the Governor’s staff may be open to criminal liability.
During a Monday press conference, Cuomo took responsibility for “creating a void in information” about the number nursing home residents who died from COVID-19 deaths.
“The void we created by not providing information was filled with skepticism and cynicism and conspiracy theories, which fueled the confusion,” Cuomo said during the press conference. “The void we created caused disinformation and that caused more anxiety for loved ones.”
Meanwhile, a growing number of bipartisan lawmakers in the New York Legislature want to rescind the Governor’s emergency powers.
A group of Democrats in the state Assembly sent out a memo that asked colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join legislation to roll them back. The letter referenced a “criminal use of power” by the Cuomo Administration to allegedly hide nursing home data.
Senator Alessandra Biaggi is the legislation’s Senate sponsor.
“I believed it was time to roll them back a long time ago and I’ve been calling for this for a while, but I think now it’s clear to a majority of people that it’s time,” she said.
The emergency powers are set to expire in late April. Now lawmakers must vote to either extend them, not renew them or revoke them sooner.