State Watch

Cuomo investigation includes priority virus testing for family, associates: report

A federal criminal investigation into New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is reportedly expanding to examine priority COVID-19 testing for his family and associates, according to multiple reports.

The New York Times reported that investigators in the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York are looking into whether the governor’s administration had a priority testing program that benefited his close family members and associates early in the pandemic.

Among those who were believed to have benefited were the governor’s brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, and the father of Melissa DeRosa, the governor’s most senior aide.

The probe was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The federal investigation began in February and was focused on Cuomo’s handling of COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes after New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) released a report finding that the state underreported COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes.

James’s office is currently investigating Cuomo’s handling of COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes. 

The Albany Times Union reported in late March that Cuomo and Health Commissioner Howard Zucker instructed officials at the Health Department to conduct prioritized testing for the governor’s brother, mother and at least one of his sisters.

The Times found that the prioritized testing lasted through at least last month, when Cuomo’s daughter Mariah Kennedy Cuomo and her boyfriend were tested at a site in Albany on April 3.

Their samples were labeled as “specials” before being taken to the state’s Wadsworth Center laboratory for testing. For samples deemed “specials,” staff members at the center were told to stay until the results were processed, and “specials” often received their results by phone within hours.

Elkan Abramowitz, a private lawyer representing the governor and his aides, told the Times about the priority testing, “They were going to come in contact with the governor.”

“It would be a proper exercise of discretion to give priority testing to anybody who came in contact with the governor,” Abramowitz said.

Also allegedly given special treatment was the president of Regeneron, the pharmaceutical company whose COVID-19 treatment was used when former President Trump had COVID-19 in October. The Times noted that the CEO had longstanding ties to Cuomo.

Richard Azzopardi, a senior adviser to Cuomo, told The Hill in a statement that in the early days of the pandemic, “we were absolutely going above and beyond to get people testing.”

“Among those we assisted were members of the general public, including legislators, reporters, state workers and their families,” he said.

A spokesperson for the U.S. attorney’s office had no comment when reached by The Hill.

Tags Andrew Cuomo Chris Cuomo Coronavirus COVID-19 Donald Trump New York Pandemic

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