ALBANY - Gov. David A. Paterson misled a state ethics panel by claiming he had always planned to pay for the 2009 World Series tickets he used, an independent counsel said Thursday, adding that further examination was warranted to see whether criminal charges should be filed.
In a 43-page report, former Chief Judge Judith Kaye said "at a minimum" Paterson's testimony to the Public Integrity Commission was "inaccurate and misleading." She stopped short of saying the governor had lied about how the five tickets sought by his office from the Yankees were to be paid for. Their face value was $425 each.
Kaye - who herself had the power to bring either criminal or civil charges - said the evidence "warrants consideration of possible criminal charges" by Albany District Attorney David Soares. He already is investigating and his spokeswoman would only say, "The matter is under review."
Paterson Thursday referred questions to his lawyer, Theodore Wells Jr., who said he hoped Soares would find no criminal charges are warranted. "The governor did not lie when he testified about the Yankee tickets, and the report does not recommend the bringing of criminal charges or conclude that the governor intended to give false or misleading testimony," Wells said.
Still, Kaye, citing witnesses and documents, found that Paterson and aides insisted last year to the Yankees the tickets should be free because Paterson was going in his official capacity. Paterson only decided to pay for tickets used by his son, Alexander, and the son's friend after questions from a reporter on Oct. 29, the day after the game, Kaye said. The Yankees eventually received a backdated check for $850.
Two gubernatorial aides also submitted payments, leaving only Paterson's ticket as free.
Kaye also found the check Paterson claimed to have written prior to the game was backdated and filled out by aide David W. Johnson. However, Kaye said she couldn't determine if Paterson's testimony about the check was truthful because it wasn't shown to him before the questioning. Paterson, though legally blind, can read documents and should have been shown the check, she added.
The commission said it was continuing to probe whether Paterson violated ethics rules and the ban on officials soliciting and accepting gifts.
The Yankees said the Kaye report made "it clear [the team] fully cooperated and acted appropriately."
Thursday's report was the second from Kaye about Paterson.
Last month, she found he had made "errors in judgment," but had not tampered with witnesses in the domestic violence case involving Johnson and his girlfriend. After speaking with Paterson in February, Johnson's girlfriend didn't show up for a court hearing and her request for a protection order was dropped.
Johnson was charged after Kaye suggested further examination by the Bronx district attorney.
Some of the report's findings
ACTIONS WERE MISLEADING. Gov. David A. Paterson "at a minimum" misled the state Public Integrity Commission, testifying he always planned to pay for 2009 World Series tickets he used.
POSSIBLE CRIMINAL CHARGES. Evidence "warrants consideration of possible criminal charges" by Albany District Attorney David Soares of Paterson.
CHECKS WERE BACKDATED. Two checks sent to the Yankees by Paterson and his aide David W. Johnson for game tickets were backdated but insufficent evidence to warrant consideration of criminal charges.
VIEWING HIS OWN CHECK. Paterson should have been shown his backdated check before being questioned about it by the commission.
NO CONSISTENT POLICY. Governor's office lacks a consistent policy on whether event tickets should be paid for.
- Compiled by James T. Madore