The FBI and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn are investigating New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s staff after it came to light that he knowingly lied about the true number of elderly nursing home deaths.
ABC News revealed that two sources familiar with the matter said the investigation is in its early stages and subpoenas have already begun to be issued.
“As we said publicly, the Justice Department has been investigating this for months,” Richard Azzopardi, Cuomo’s spokesman, told the Times Union. “We have been cooperating with them and will continue to do so.”
Lawmakers from both parties have called for an independent investigation into the governor’s handling of nursing homes. They accuse Cuomo of committing an “intentional criminal offense.”
The lawmakers accuse Cuomo of obstruction of justice by withholding information on the number of deceased seniors in nursing homes in an attempt to evade a U.S. Department of Justice investigation.
Much of the debate over the elderly death count has centered on a controversial directive from Cuomo’s Health Department on March 25th last year, informing nursing homes that they could not refuse to admit patients who tested positive for COVID-19.
A report by New York U.S. Attorney Letitia James notes that at least 4,000 elderly residents died after Cuomo’s memo, and stated that this directive “may have put residents at increased risk of harm in some facilities.”
A court order and the state attorney general’s report forced New York state to acknowledge that the death toll of nursing home residents is nearly 15,000, nearly double what was initially reported (8,500).
The governor’s secretary Melissa DeRosa admitted that the administration intentionally kept the nursing home data secret for fear of possible repercussions from the Department of Justice and political fallout.
Ron Kim, a Democrat, on Wednesday, February 17th, accused Cuomo of an alleged threatening call to prevent the House from withdrawing the special powers with which he has handled the state’s coronavirus crisis.
Kim claimed that the New York governor called him to threaten and humiliate him. The governor allegedly warned he “had the power to destroy him.”