NY sheriff defends decision to target Cuomo

CLARKSVILLE, NY (AP) – A New York sheriff defended his decision on Friday to file a criminal complaint against former …

CLARKSVILLE, NY (AP) – A New York sheriff on Friday defended his decision to file a criminal complaint against former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo without consulting prosecutors or informing the prosecutor, a woman who says she was groped by the Democrat last year.

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said in a radio interview that he did not intend the criminal charge to be made public so soon, but he said the case should go ahead.

“We did not want everyone to know exactly what we were doing because we did not want all this, circus,” Craig said in an interview with radio host Paul Vandenburgh of Albany’s Talk 1300.

Nevertheless, he added: “We have facts about the investigation and the criminal conviction was issued. So on November 17, that person should be held accountable for that charge,” Craig said, referring to Cuomo and the date he has been charged. ordered to appear in court.

The one-sided complaint, filed in Albany City Court, accuses Cuomo of committing the crime of coercion by placing his hand under a woman’s shirt on December 7, 2020.

The complaint did not name the woman, but she has identified herself as Brittany Commisso, who worked as one of Cuomo’s executive assistants before his resignation due to allegations of sexual harassment in August.

Coercive touch is a misdemeanor in New York that can be punished with up to a year in prison, though many cases of first-time offenders are solved with conditional imprisonment or a shorter prison sentence.

The Albany County District Attorney’s office said after the indictment was filed that it had not been informed in advance. It has been conducting its own investigation and was expected to lead a decision on whether to prosecute.

The commission’s attorney, Brian Premo, said he had also expected the district attorney to handle the case.

“I have no doubt that the sheriff’s investigators did a thorough job,” Premo told Talk 1300. “I have no doubt they believe in their case. I have no problem with any of that. It is just that this is a politically charged case, right?… So I think it’s only wise to let the prosecution have an influence on how the investigation is conducted and whether there is a prosecution, right?

Craig said it was “discouraging” that the justice system published the criminal complaint immediately, something he described as a “leak,” even though such court documents are public in New York and are routinely made available to journalists.

As for the district attorney’s office, Craig said they were conducting “separate investigations.”

“I’m not sure what the district attorney’s investigation has at the moment,” he said.

Commisso accused Cuomo of groping her when they were alone in an office in the governor’s mansion in Albany. Cuomo has denied the allegations.

The Associated Press does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault unless they decide to tell their stories in public, as Commisso has done.

A spokesman for the former governor said Thursday’s surprising development was evidence that the case is politically motivated.

“In an unprecedented move, Craig Apple ‘erroneously’ filed charges against former Governor Cuomo without the notice or permission of the district attorney or prosecutor,” said spokesman Rich Azzopardi.

“It seemed that the only person who was notified and had a statement ready to go was Tish James,” he said, referring to the state’s attorney general, who was in charge of a civilian investigation into Cuomo’s behavior with women but was not involved in the case. the sheriff’s criminal case.

James announced Friday that she was running for governor.

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Calvan reported from New York City.

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