Albany County sheriff says office charged former NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo before informing DA

Albany County sheriff says office charged former NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo before informing DA
Brendan McDermid/Pool/Getty Images

The Albany County sheriff on Friday acknowledged that his office did not coordinate with the local district attorney over the misdemeanor forcible touching allegation that his office had filed in an Albany court against former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Sheriff Craig Apple said the charges had been posted quicker than his office anticipated, catching him and the local district attorney by surprise and leading to a back-and-forth between them, as legal observers puzzled over how a complaint of this nature became public before typically private deliberations among law enforcement officials could play out.

Cuomo, a Democrat who resigned from his post in August after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment, is the subject of a misdemeanor charge in connection with an alleged incident at the governor’s mansion on December 7, 2020.

Apple insisted during a news conference that, despite the confusion, the case against Cuomo is “solid” and the fundamentals of it were unaffected. The issue, he said, was simply that the paperwork his office filed with Albany City Court came back “at a relatively accelerated rate.”

Apple said he had a meeting scheduled with Albany County District Attorney David Soares that day and “would liked to have talked to the DA first.” Soares released a statement after the misdemeanor complaint was filed Thursday saying he was “surprised” to learn that a criminal complaint had been filed in court. It’s unclear whether Soares plans to pursue a prosecution against Cuomo.

Cuomo’s attorney had also not been contacted by Apple before the information was released. The sheriff said Friday that he would have liked to have done so.

“I don’t think those documents should have been released until after we had an arraignment,” he said.

Cuomo, who is expected to appear in court in Albany on November 17 to be arraigned and processed on the charge, has not yet been served the summons, the sheriff said.

The decision to bring the charges relied in part on information gathered during an investigation conducted by New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office, which found that Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 women. That report was release on August 3. A week later, facing the prospect of impeachment by the state legislature and calls to step down, including from President Joe Biden, Cuomo announced he would leave office.

But even as he prepared to go, and in the aftermath of his departure, Cuomo — who spent a decade in the governor’s mansion — has kept up a public relations fight, seeking to discredit the attorney general’s findings and cast her office’s work as politically driven.

The former governor has repeatedly denied the allegations of sexual misconduct against him, allowing that he made mistakes, but always insisting that the more serious accusations were untrue.

The woman, whose name has been redacted from court documents, filed a complaint with the sheriff’s office in August, and Apple said that over the past four months investigators have conducted a “very comprehensive and methodical investigation” with hundreds of documents, search warrants and interviews with the victim and other witnesses.

Apple reiterated that his office’s investigation is separate from an investigation by Soares’ office, but that it is not uncommon for a sheriff’s office not to consult with a local district attorney for a misdemeanor case.

“If we consulted with the DA on every single misdemeanor case there would be no justice in this county,” Apple said.

A spokesman for Cuomo called the sheriff’s motives “patently improper” and said the charge was politically motivated.

Apple, in response, said, “We do our investigations we’re a very professional agency. I took an oath, and we took a complaint. And we followed through with it and we did like every other police department and sheriff’s office should have done.”

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