Tags: US | NY | Governor | Accuser

Paterson Won't Face Criminal Charges

Wednesday, 28 Jul 2010 01:43 PM

New York Gov. David Paterson will not face criminal charges for calling a woman who later dropped domestic violence charges against a top aide to the governor, according to a person with direct knowledge of the investigation.

Retired Judge Judith Kaye, tasked by state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo with examining Paterson's role in the assault case, will release a report Wednesday outlining tampering allegations against the Democratic governor, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the report was not yet public.

After the confrontation between David Johnson and his then-girlfriend Sherr-una Booker on Oct. 31, Paterson called Booker and later endorsed a press statement that said the incident was not violent.

Booker filed a police report saying Johnson choked her, threw her against a mirror and tried to rip her Halloween costume off. After the Paterson call, she did not show up for court, and the complaint was dropped.

But the damage was done to Paterson. Buffeted by other ethics questions about World Series tickets, Paterson soon dropped plans to run for a full term this fall, while saying he intended to finish the year in office. His attorney, Theodore Wells Jr., has denied any wrongdoing by the governor.

Officials disclosed that Paterson, members of his State Police security detail, and other administration employees spoke to Booker shortly before she was supposed to appear in court for a hearing in the domestic violence case Feb. 8.

The governor confirmed that he spoke to Booker on the telephone the day before the hearing but denied trying to talk her out of pressing charges. He said he just wanted to see how she was doing.

The New York Times later quoted unidentified sources as saying that the governor had personally directed two state employees to contact Booker and that he tried to get her to change her story and describe the incident as nonviolent.

Calls to Wells and Paterson were not immediately returned Wednesday.

Oscar Michelen, Johnson's lawyer, has said his client was never arrested or charged, remained suspended without pay and looks forward to Kaye's report so he can move on.

He has said New York City police arrived at Booker's Bronx home Halloween night and "made a determination there was no evidence a crime had been committed."

Cuomo appointed Kaye to Paterson's case after critics pointed out a potential conflict of interest because he is also running for governor. Cuomo acknowledged a legitimate argument early in the investigation, before Paterson dropped out of the race.


Long reported from New York.

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