ALBANY, N.Y. (WWNY) - A probe of the Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic by the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn is in its early stages, the Albany Times-Union reported Wednesday night.
Word of the investigation - which the newspaper said came from “a person with direct knowledge of the matter” - comes as Cuomo is under withering attack for his handling of nursing home deaths from COVID in the early days of the crisis.
His administration has been forced to concede that thousands more nursing home residents died from COVID than originally claimed, and Cuomo has been pressed to explain why it was only after a scathing report from the state’s Attorney General and a judge’s order that the state Department of Health began releasing accurate numbers of nursing home COVID deaths.
The Times-Union story Wednesday night said the investigation “at least in part” is focusing on what members of the governor’s coronavirus task force did as the pandemic unfolded.
The newspaper reports “no allegations of wrongdoing” have been made.
It’s not clear what, if any, connection this investigation has to an earlier inquiry from the Department of Justice in 2020 on nursing home deaths from COVID. Cuomo has said his administration delayed supplying accurate nursing home death numbers to state legislators and the public because they were busy responding to the Department of Justice request for information.
A Cuomo aide did not say whether any member of the administration has been interviewed or if they have been served with subpeonas, according to the newspaper.
However “As we publicly said, DOJ (Department of Justice) has been looking into this for months,” Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for the governor, told the Times-Union.
“We have been cooperating with them and we will continue to.”
The newspaper report is sure to ratchet up the pressure on Cuomo even more; north country congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who regularly attacks Cuomo, called the investigation ‘an important first step toward justice and accountability.”
Democrats, members of Cuomo’s own party, are preparing legislation to strip Cuomo of at least some of the special powers the state legislature granted him to deal with the pandemic. A vote in the state senate is expected next week.