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Woman may refile charges against Paterson aide

Bronx prosecutors expect to interview the woman whose allegations of domestic abuse against a top aide to Gov. David A. Paterson sparked an Albany scandal.

Sherr-una Booker, 41, who had been living with former Paterson aide David W. Johnson, said in news interviews she wants prosecutors to charge her former boyfriend over the incident last Halloween.

"We expect to talk to her soon," said Steven Reed, a spokesman for Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson.

Booker alleged David Johnson shoved her and tore her clothing in their Bronx apartment Oct. 31. Police said they saw no injuries and declined to arrest Johnson.

Booker then filed a Family Court action and secured an order of protection that Johnson's attorney said was never served. The Bronx Family Court case was dismissed after Booker failed to appear for a hearing Feb. 8, a day after a phone conversation with Paterson.

In the political storm that developed after the allegations became public, Johnson was suspended without pay from his $132,000 job and former Chief Judge Judith Kaye was appointed to oversee a probe of whether Booker was improperly influenced by state officials, including Paterson, to drop the court case. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo bowed out of the investigation to avoid an appearance of a conflict of interest because of his then pending gubernatorial campaign.

Johnson's lawyer, Oscar Michelen of Manhattan and Mineola, sent a three-page letter to Bronx prosecutors Thursday. In it, Michelen recited his client's version of the facts and Family Court procedures, to try to head off any potential charges.

"I respectfully submit that under the circumstances I have outlined, all of which I can prove with documentary evidence, any other complainant would be summarily told that no further action was warranted or available," Michelen wrote, referring to Booker.

Some defense lawyers not connected to the case agreed with Michelen that the case should be discarded.

"No way should the district attorney go forward," said Steven K. Frankel of Manhattan. "The staleness of the action would bring her motivation into question, even if she had a legitimate claim."

Bronx lawyer Murray Richman agreed that normally such a domestic abuse case might not be prosecuted but said prosecutors might want to take a closer look because of the political nature.

Paterson's lawyer, Theodore V. Wells Jr., said, "Governor Paterson has not engaged in any wrongdoing. He is continuing to cooperate with Judge Kaye's investigation and looks forward to her report."

Kaye wouldn't comment Thursday. But Paterson has been interviewed at least once by investigators she supervises and expects to be called back for further questioning, two gubernatorial aides in Albany said.

Under mounting pressure, and with three scandals swirling, Paterson abandoned his election campaign for governor Feb. 26, just six days after launching it.

- With James T. Madore

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