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Guv's attorney blasts commission's ticket investigation

In an effort to show that state ethics probers are sandbagging him, Gov. David A. Paterson's attorney blasted the investigation of his use of World Series tickets and raised Paterson's blindness as a defense to possible perjury charges.

In a letter released Wednesday, Paterson's Manhattan lawyer Theodore Wells Jr. said the Commission on Public Integrity "rushed to judgment" when it issued its report earlier this month charging that Paterson violated ethics rules and may have lied in his testimony to the watchdog agency.

The investigation was "half-baked" and guided by a "shoot-first, ask-questions-later" approach, said Wells in a letter to the commission.

"If the commission had evaluated the facts in a calm, fair, and thorough manner . . . it would not have concluded that Governor Paterson lied under oath about the Yankee tickets, or that the receipt of the tickets violated any law."

Wells said the finding that Paterson lied about the 2009 World Series tickets for his 15-year-old son and his friend, related to his testimony about a check sent to the Yankees. Paterson, who is legally blind, was never asked to visually inspect the check, said Wells.

In his testimony to the commission, Paterson, when asked if the check was the one he sent to the Yankees answered, "I would assume it is."

Wells said Paterson never actually looked at the check, which the commission investigators said had handwriting on it different from the governor's.

Wells said Paterson was never asked if it was his handwriting on the check, which the commission said it wasn't.

The commission said Paterson testified he left blank the payee line on the check he gave to aide David Johnson who apparently filled in the missing information. But handwriting analysis showed Paterson didn't fill out any part of the check, said the commission, indicating he lied in his testimony.

Lawyers who didn't want to be identified said Wednesday that it is now up to Paterson to produce a check that backs his claim.

Late Tuesday, commission chairman Michael Cherkasky said Wells' letter didn't contest the main findings of the ethics body about possible perjury. Wednesday, Wells shot back and said that wasn't so.

Oscar Michelen, the Mineola attorney representing Johnson, also wrote Cherkasky to dispute his claim that Johnson ducked a subpoena. Michelen said Johnson was never properly served but will testify later this month.

"I have never seen such a mild-mannered effort to secure attendance of a critical witness before an investigating body," said Michelen.

Cherkasky declined to comment Wednesday about the new letters filed by Wells and Michelen.


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