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Corruption probe investigation continues

Updated: 07/31/2014 6:19 PM
Created: 07/31/2014 2:39 PM WNYT.com
By: AP

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is facing more criticism in the ongoing Moreland Commission case.

According to the New York Times, the U.S. attorney's office sent a letter to the panel warning them about possible witness tampering and obstruction.

The letter is sort of putting the governor's office on notice. It came after some Moreland Commission members defended the governor for accusations that he interfered with the panel's investigations.

It's been a week of scrutiny for Cuomo, perhaps the harshest since he took office more than three years ago after the New York Times reported he compromised the work of the Moreland Commission an anti-corruption panel that he created.

“That is false. And that is what has been definitively stated over and over and very clearly today,” said Cuomo.

The governor defended himself on Monday during a press conference in Buffalo. He pointed several times to a statement by the commission's co-chair saying there was never any interference. Other panel members have also spoken on behalf of the governor.

Federal prosecutors have written a letter to the commission's attorney, according to the New York Times.

The paper reports the letter from Preet Bharara says his office has reasons to believe some commissioners were asked to make public statements about their operation on Cuomo’s behalf -- and attempts to do that would be examined as potential witness tampering or obstruction.

“He does serious things. So my assumption would have to be that this is a serious problem. I have no other knowledge of that,” said Barbara Bartoletti, legislative director for the New York State League of Women Voters. Bartoletti was also a special advisor to the Moreland Commission anti-corruption panel.

She says she has no idea why Bharara, who's already looking into the shutdown of the panel, would turn up the heat on the investigation.

The governor’s office also released the following statement on Thursday:

"We are aware of the letter sent by the U.S Attorney for the Southern District. The New York Times published a story last week that generated a wave of news reports across the state, some with numerous inaccuracies, and we wanted to correct them.  We discussed these concerns with relevant parties.  Several members of the Commission (District Attorneys and a law school dean) issued personal statements to correct the public record.  These statements reiterated comments they had made over the past year.  As I believe the U.S. Attorney has made it clear that ongoing public dialogue is not helpful to his investigation, we will have no additional comment on the matter."

The attorney general's office also released a statement saying they cannot comment.

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