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Paterson not charged with criminality for meddling

The governor may have goofed, but he’s not a crook.

Gov. David Paterson won’t be charged for calling a woman who was allegedly attacked by a top aide, according to the retired judge heading the investigation.

Judith Kaye found that Paterson didn’t break the law by meddling in the domestic dispute involving David Johnson, the governor’s friend and aide. In October, Johnson’s girlfriend filed a police report saying that he choked her and threw her against a mirror, but later dropped the complaint after Paterson told her to cool it.

However, she criticized him for failing to inquire about what actually happened that night beyond the account of his friend.

“Stupidity is still not a crime,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic political consultant.
Paterson has come a long way since the scandal broke in February, when he’s was a staple on newspaper front-pages and the “resignation watch” was on.

But he’s gained some ground by agreeing to not run for re-election and focusing on Albany’s budget woes, political experts and media analysts say.

“Everyone understand politics is a dirty business,” said Adam Kluger, an image consultant. “New Yorkers care about money and the economy.”

While Paterson is a lame duck, he has played hardball with the state budget in recent weeks, which has helped cultivate a populist image.

“He’s trying,” said Susie Belle, 46, of Gramercy Park. “He’s made some unpopular decisions and done things people don’t agree with.”

But Paterson still faces other ethics charges regarding World Series tickets, and the political impact will likely mar him for life, political analysts say.

“Once the budget is done no one will remember he is alive,” Sheinkopf said.

The Bronx district attorney is still investigating the charges against Johnson.

Katherine Lieb and the Associated Press contributed to this story

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