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Ex-N.Y. gov won't be charged in Yankee tickets rap

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- Former New York Gov. David Paterson won't be charged with perjury on allegations that he lied about taking free Yankees tickets for the 2009 World Series while he was in office, a spokeswoman for the Albany County district attorney said Saturday.

Albany County District Attorney David Soares informed Paterson's lawyer in a letter Wednesday that his office won't pursue perjury charges, according to Soares spokeswoman Heather Oarth.

David Paterson paid a $62,125 fine after leaving office on Dec. 31. The former New York governor will not face perjury charges. (Getty Images)  
David Paterson paid a $62,125 fine after leaving office on Dec. 31. The former New York governor will not face perjury charges. (Getty Images)  
Paterson spokesman Sean Darcy said the former governor, who left office on Dec. 31, had no immediate comment.

The Commission on Public Integrity charged in a report last year that Paterson violated ethics laws when he contradicted his staff, the Yankees and common sense by falsely claiming he always intended to pay for the tickets.

Paterson paid a $62,125 fine to the commission shortly after leaving office.

In the report, the commission said Paterson performed no ceremonial function at the game, which still would not have entitled him to free tickets for his son and son's friend. The others were used by the governor and the two staff members. He and two of his staff paid for four of the tickets a few days later.

"The moral and ethical tone of any organization is set at the top. Unfortunately, the governor set a totally inappropriate tone by his dishonest and unethical conduct," commission Chairman Michael Cherkasky said in the report. "Such conduct cannot be tolerated by any New York State employee, particularly our governor."

The commission said the civil penalty consists of the $2,125 value of the tickets and $60,000 for three violations of the state's public officer's law.

Paterson had said it was his duty to attend the opening series game at the new Bronx stadium.

There was a question whether the Democratic governor gave "intentionally false testimony" to the commission about having written an $850 check in advance for two tickets, special counsel Judith Kaye, the state's former chief judge, said in a report.

However, Kaye said the perjury issue was "clouded" by the way Paterson's commission testimony was given, with the entries read aloud to the legally blind governor, instead of him personally examining a check that was not filled out in his own handwriting.

Paterson attorney Theodore Wells Jr. said then that Paterson didn't lie, and he noted Kaye's report didn't recommend bringing charges. However, she said the evidence warranted consideration of criminal charges.

In the letter, which was first reported by the Daily News, Soares did not dispute the charges but said there was not sufficient evidence to prove them beyond a reasonable doubt. A criminal case requires a higher burden of proof, Oarth said.

Paterson presided over two tumultuous years after succeeding Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who resigned in March 2008 amid a prostitution investigation. Paterson, who had been New York's lieutenant governor, was plagued from the start by a fiscal crisis hastened by the recession and a string of ethical accusations against him, both as governor and in his personal life, which didn't result in any criminal charges.

His disability required him to depend greatly on his staff. He never learned to read Braille, so aides had to read voluminous documents and news reports to him every day and he memorized speeches and other data.

He is now a guest on New York City sports radio shows, a medium with which he said he's felt most comfortable since he became legally blind as a child. Paterson also teaches at New York University.

His legacy improved this year, as Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo employed a budget law tool that Paterson discovered and first used last year to force the Legislature to cut spending. Under the law, which may have ended decades of late budgets in Albany, Paterson found that if the Legislature didn't agree to a budget by the April 1 deadline, a governor can impose his budget through a series of emergency spending bills. The Legislature is left with a choice of accepting the bills or shutting down government.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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