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FBI, US Attorney investigating Cuomo’s handling of NY nursing homes

FBI, US Attorney investigating Cuomo’s handling of NY nursing homes

by Larry Celona, Nolan Hicks and Kenneth Garger | New York Post  |  Published on February 18, 2021

The FBI and the Eastern District of New York US Attorney’s office have opened an investigation into Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s handling of nursing homes amid the coronavirus pandemic, sources said.

The probe is examining the Cuomo administration’s actions relating to the nursing homes and other long-term care facilities after thousands of their residents died of COVID-19, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

In its early-stages, the investigation is focusing on some senior members of Cuomo’s coronavirus task force, according to The Times Union, which first reported its existence.

Cuomo’s administration has faced fierce criticism for a since-rescinded March 25 state Health Department directive ordering nursing homes to admit infected patients being discharged from hospitals.

Critics have argued the Health Department order contributed to the state’s high nursing home death toll, along with the spread of the virus.

The controversy was heightened last month when state Attorney General Letitia James released a damning report saying the state likely undercounted the nursing home COVID-19 death toll by more than 50 percent.

The discrepancy, the report said, was the result of the state not disclosing how many nursing home residents died in hospitals.

The AG report also found some nursing homes apparently underreported resident COVID-19 deaths to the state.

Following the report, Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, a state coronavirus task force member, finally released revised figures showing the combined total was 12,743 as of Jan. 19.

Just a day earlier, the DOH was only publicly acknowledging 8,711 deaths in nursing homes.

As of Monday, a total of 13,432 nursing home residents had been killed by COVID-19, Department of Health figures.

The updated figures released by Zucker came after months of stonewalling by the Cuomo administration.

Repeated requests from lawmakers and the media for the number of nursing home resident deaths in hospitals were ignored.

The administration also fought a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by the Empire Center for Public Policy.

The turmoil continued last week, when The Post exclusively revealed the governor’s office hid nursing home death numbers from the state legislature.

Cuomo’s top aide, DeRosa, privately admitted to Democratic lawmakers that the administration withheld the data over fears it would be “used against us” by federal prosecutors.

DeRosa, also a state coronavirus task force member, told the lawmakers the administration “froze,” citing a Trump-era Department of Justice investigation into the state.

The bombshell admission by DeRosa led to calls for an investigation from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Responding to news of the federal probe, Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said, “As we publicly said, DOJ has been looking into this for months. We have been cooperating with them and we will continue to.”

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