Law & the Courts

FBI Investigating Whether Cuomo Aides Gave False Nursing Home Data to DOJ

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D., N.Y.) arrives for an event in New York, March 18, 2021. (Seth Wenig/Reuters)

The FBI is investigating whether the Cuomo administration provided false data to the Department of Justice as part of its investigation into the administration’s handling of COVID in nursing homes.

FBI investigators have contacted lawyers representing Cuomo aides and have subpoenaed the office for documents related to the transmission of data to the DOJ, four people familiar with the probe told The New York Times. The aides could be criminally charged if they are found to have lied to the DOJ.

The development comes as Cuomo finds himself battling dual scandals, one stemming from his aides’ efforts to conceal the true number of COVID nursing home deaths in the state, and another resulting from multiple allegations of sexual harassment leveled against him by former aides and other women he met during social engagements.

Cuomo’s aides reportedly doctored a state health department report released in July to limit its downside political risk. As part of that effort, they artificially lowered the number of nursing home deaths by as much as 50 percent by leaving out nursing home residents who died in the hospital.

The alleged cover-up took place as Republicans and New Yorkers who lost loved ones to COVID began attacking the governor’s policy requiring nursing homes to accept COVID-positive residents returning from hospitals. The policy may have resulted in as many as 1,000 additional deaths, according to the non-profit government watchdog group The Empire Center. Cuomo and his allies have argued that the policy was a reasonable response to the fear that hospitals would be overwhelmed by COVID patients.

The state only revealed the true number of nursing home deaths, which stands at roughly 15,000, after attorney general Letitia James exposed the undercount in a January report.

“The families have been waiting for an entire year for any semblance of an investigation, a true, deep investigation into what happened,” Vivian Zayas, whose mother died in April after contracting COVID in a Long Island nursing home, told the Times. “We’ve been asking for an investigation with subpoena power at the state level, and the calls have fallen on deaf ears.”

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