U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Monday that there is not sufficient evidence to bring federal prosecution charges against Gov. Andrew Cuomo or anyone on Cuomo's staff for interfering with the activities of the Moreland Commission.
“After a thorough investigation of interference with the operation of the Moreland Commission and its premature closing, this office has concluded that, absent any additional proof that may develop, there is insufficient evidence to prove a federal crime,” Bharara said in his statement. “We continue to have active investigations related to substantive inquiries that were being conducted by the Moreland Commission at the time of its closure.”
The anti-corruption panel was initially created by Cuomo, but disbanded by him in March 2014. Bharara’s office responded by launching an investigation of the governor and members of his staff, purportedly for witness tampering and obstruction of justice, the New York Times reports.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who was the Republican challenger to Cuomo's successful 2014 bid for re-election, reacted angrily to the governor being cleared in the wake of both State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver losing their seats after being convicted on corruption charges.
"In shutting the Moreland Commission, just as it was discovering criminal evidence against his 'two amigos' in Albany, Andrew Cuomo proved that he is no reformer,” Astorino said in a statement. “The fact that insufficient evidence of federal crimes was available to indict Mr. Cuomo of obstruction of justice is not the same as finding him innocent.
"Mr. Cuomo turned his back to crimes being committed by his legislative colleagues, just as he shut his eyes to Sheldon Silver's coverups of sexual assaults committed by powerful men in Albany.
Astorino is calling for the appointment of an independent prosecutor.
"The likelihood that state laws were broken was always the greater possibility," Astorino said. "I call on Mr. Cuomo to appoint that prosecutor now."
Astorino added true reform of Albany’s political system “will not come under this governor. He is too much part of the system and reform and transparency are simply not in his nature."
Cuomo lives in New Castle while Astorino lives next door in Mount Pleasant.
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