One of the 11 women who accused New York Governor Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment is set to speak out in an interview with CBS News and the Albany Times Union, which will be televised on Monday.
“What he did to me was a crime. He broke the law,” said Brittany Commisso, one of the women referenced in the 165-page investigative report released last week by New York Attorney General Letitia James which unearthed allegations of sexual harassment that Cuomo is alleged to have committed.
“The governor needs to be held accountable,” Commisso said in an excerpt of the interview, which was broadcast Sunday morning on “Face the Nation.”
Commisso was previously referenced as “Executive Assistant #1” in the attorney general’s report. She identified herself publicly after becoming the first of Cuomo’s accusers to file a criminal complaint against the Democratic governor.
Commisso previously told investigators that Cuomo had groped her breast and inappropriately touched her backside while she took a photograph.
On Saturday, Craig Apple, the Albany County sheriff, confirmed the existence of the complaint against Cuomo and said that his office had commenced of an investigation into the claims. He committed to a “very comprehensive investigation.”
“I’m not going to rush it because of who he is and I’m not going to delay it because of who he is,” Apple added, referring to Cuomo.
Representatives for Cuomo’s office did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Cuomo has remained defiant in the face of calls for his resignation
Since the findings of the attorney general’s report were made public last week, Cuomo has faced widespread calls to relinquish his role.
President Joe Biden last week said Cuomo should resign over the findings. He was joined by a chorus of other high-profile lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
As many as seven in 10 New York state voters agree that Cuomo ought to resign, and more than half (55%) believe he should be charged with a crime, according to a poll from Quinnipiac University released on Friday.
Meanwhile, Cuomo has refused to step down. In a statement on video last week, Cuomo denied that he had behaved inappropriately.
“I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances,” Cuomo said, according to a transcript of the August 3 remarks posted to the New York state website. “I have lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am and that’s not who I have ever been.”
Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson will no longer sell opioids in the US as part of a $230 million settlement with the state of New York.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the settlement was reached just days before the case was set to go to trial Tuesday on Long Island.
The settlement does not impact the numerous other lawsuits the company faces in other states across the US from state and local governments who allege Johnson & Johnson and other pharmaceutical companies helped create the opioid epidemic.
“The opioid epidemic has wreaked havoc on countless communities across New York state and the rest of the nation, leaving millions still addicted to dangerous and deadly opioids,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said Saturday in a statement.
“Johnson & Johnson helped fuel this fire, but today they’re committing to leaving the opioid business – not only in New York, but across the entire country,” she added.
Settlement talks between drug companies and state and local governments have ramped up in recent weeks as trials have begun in California and West Virginia, sources told the WSJ.
In a statement, Johnson & Johnson said the settlement Saturday with the state of New York was not an admission of liability of wrongdoing.
“The Company’s actions relating to the marketing and promotion of important prescription pain medications were appropriate and responsible,” it said.
The trial in New York was scheduled to begin in March 2020 but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the WSJ. Following New York’s settlement with Johnson & Johnson, the case will proceed next week with three other opioid makers, multiple drug distributors, and the pharmacy Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., according to the report.
It will be the first opioid case to be heard in front of a jury, the WSJ noted.
The first opioid trial in the US was in Oklahoma in 2019 resulted in a $465 million loss against Johnson & Johson, the WSJ reported. The company is appealing that ruling, the report said.
“Our trial against the remaining defendants will commence this coming week, where we will lay bare the callous and deadly pattern of misconduct these companies perpetrated as they dealt dangerous and addictive opioids across our state,” James said Saturday. “As always, our goal remains getting funds to those devastated by opioids as quickly as possible.”
The New York trial is expected to last for four months, according to the WSJ.
Cryptocurrency trading platform Coinseed is shutting down after being sued by New York Attorney General Letitia James earlier this year for fraud.
“I’m announcing that I am winding down the business due to a lawsuit from the NYAG,” Del Davaasambuu, Coinseed cofounder and CEO, said in a statement found on the landing page of the company website.
The saga began on February 17 when James filed a lawsuit against the company for defrauding investors out of more than $1 million via undisclosed fees and through the sale of “worthless” CSD tokens, Coinseed’s cryptocurrency.
According to a filing, Coinseed on April 16 converted all investor assets into bitcoin “without notice or authorization” and disabled all functionality in the application so that they will not be able to withdraw their money. Later on the same day, Coinseed traded the bitcoins for dogecoin.
The office of the AG said it received more than 170 complaints from investors who were concerned about protecting their assets in the first three months after filing the lawsuit.
Then on June 7, the office of the attorney general secured a court order to halt what it called the illegal and fraudulent operations of Coinseed.
“When platforms operating illegally in New York seek to trade on investors’ money, we will use every tool at our disposal to stop their unlawful actions,” James said in a statement.
But Davaasambuu maintains his company did nothing wrong.
“There are still no regulations about how to classify cryptocurrencies and what kind of licenses they should obtain to run a business in the US,” he said in a post on the company’s website. “We don’t even have a clear guidance on how to pay crypto-related taxes.”
He added that after their initial coin offering in 2017, James and her office were “constantly harassing” them.
“We couldn’t even list our token in other exchanges because of their constant pressures and bullying,” he said. “Coinseed is a small startup with little money and we couldn’t hire good lawyers to fight them in the court which would cost millions of dollars.”
The CEO called James a “business-abuser” who chased after him and his company until all his team members left. Davaasambuu also blamed the series of events for the breakdown in his mental health.
Davaasambuu added that user funds will be returned soon once they hire a team of lawyers. Coinseed’s payment providers terminated their account in February, he said, due to the lawsuit.
He also said that the “fatal” mistake he made since founding his company in 2017 was living in New York.
The National Rifle Association on Friday dropped its lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James and her office.
“The NRA dropping its countersuit today in federal court is an implicit admission that their strategy would never prevail,” James said in a statement to legal news outlet Law & Crime.
“The truth is that Wayne LaPierre and his lieutenants used the NRA as a breeding ground for personal gain and a lavish lifestyle,” she continued. “We were victorious against the organization’s attempt to declare bankruptcy, and our fight for transparency and accountability will continue because no one is above the law.”
The organization filed a similar lawsuit against James in New York state court earlier this year, according to CNN.
Lawyers for the NRA sued James and her office in August 2020, claiming James and her office were illegally investigating the organization for political reasons.
“There can be no doubt that the James’s actions against the NRA are motivated and substantially caused by her hostility toward the NRA’s political advocacy,” lawyers for the NRA claimed in the filing the lawsuit last year.
As Law & Crime reported, that lawsuit was filed the same day James’ office filed a petition seeking the dissolution of the NRA over claims of fraud at the organization, including that longtime CEO Wayne LaPierre and others improperly organization funds for pay for things like travel and “expensive meals.”
The CEO of Kodak unlawfully traded stock in the company while negotiating a confidential $655 million loan with the White House in the beginning of the pandemic, New York Attorney General Letitia James said this week.
The AG said she filed a petition with the New York County State Supreme Court to have Kodak CEO Jim Continenza publicly testify about his purchase of 46,737 shares of Kodak early last summer.
Continenza made the purchase while he was leading secret discussions with the Trump White House and the federal government for a $655 million loan to enable Kodak to repurpose assets to purchase chemicals that would make COVID-19 medicines, James said.
“Just over a month after Continenza’s stock purchase, Kodak signed a public letter of interest with the federal government for the loan – which by then had grown to $765 million – causing Kodak stock to soar,” said James. “The day after the news was announced, Kodak’s stock price reached a high of $60 per share – more than 27 times what Continenza had paid for the stock mere weeks earlier. “
Kodak shares spiked as much as 2,190% in the two days after the loan announcement on July 28. Kodak also gained as much as 26% the day before information about the loan was made public.
In a public response to James, Kodak said Continenza was not in possession of material non-public information and his stock purchase was pre-approved by Kodak’s General Counsel in accordance with Kodak’s insider trading policy. The CEO has purchased Kodak stock in “virtually every open window period and has never sold a single share,” the company said.
“In addition to being wrong on the facts, the Attorney General’s novel and highly problematic legal theory that seeks to impose liability in the absence of intent would have a chilling effect on directors and executives of every public company, who could never invest in their own companies without fear of having good-faith decisions, pre-approved by counsel, second-guessed by regulators and charged as insider trading,” said Kodak.
However, James said that Continenza’s trading wasn’t in compliance with the policy.
“Kodak’s insider trading policy requires pre-clearance to be sought by email at least one day prior to the trading and for the requester to ‘receive’ a ‘response’ approving the trading – neither of which occurred,” the AG said.
Kodak disclosed James’ threatened lawsuit last month. James is the latest to investigate the Kodak loan. The US international Development Finance Corp reviewed the loan in 2020 but found no wrongdoing, according to the Wall Street Journal. The SEC also opened an investigation last summer that is ongoing, according to Kodak’s filings.
The New York Attorney General’s unusual announcement that its investigation into the Trump Organization is now criminal could be part of a strategy to shake loose more cooperating witnesses, according to legal experts.
Late Tuesday night, a spokesperson for the attorney general’s office first told CNN that its investigation was being conducted “in a criminal capacity.”
“We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the organization is no longer purely civil in nature,” Fabien Levy, New York State Attorney General Letitia James’s press secretary, told Insider. “We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA.”
An attorney representing Jennifer Weisselberg, a cooperating witness in both investigations who was married to the son of the Trump Organization’s CFO, said he had already been in contact with attorneys from the criminal division of James’ office.
Duncan Levin told Insider the notion that James’ investigation was criminal in nature “did not come as news” to him, nor was it news that her attorneys were teaming up with Vance’s.
“They’ve told us previously that they’re coordinating their efforts with the DA’s office,” he said. “We understand that they’re in touch with each other and that they’re coordinating their investigations together. We’ve known that for a while.”
Shaking loose more cooperating witnesses
Prosecutors in both offices are said to be examining whether the former president or his company committed financial crimes by keeping two sets of books: one that presented a rosy portrait of finances to secure favorable insurance and loan terms, and another that showed more dire figures in order to evade taxes.
Jeff Robbins, a former attorney for the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, oversaw money-laundering probes as a federal prosecutor. He said the statement from James’ office was likely designed to “shake loose” more people in Trump’s orbit who could cooperate.
Some potential witnesses or cooperators may have decided there was limited risk in ignoring prosecutors’ phone calls in a civil investigation; there’s a bigger risk if they don’t cooperate with a criminal investigation, he said.
“One possible calculation in making this announcement yesterday is to announce to those people: ‘You know what, the time for standing on the sidelines is over,'” Robbins, now the co-chair of the Congressional Investigations practice at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, told Insider.
But peripheral figures – former rank-and-file employees, tax preparers, insurance analysts, accountants – can still be helpful for prosecutors, according to Randy Zelin, a professor at Cornell Law School and white-collar criminal defense attorney at Wilk Auslander LLP. He said Tuesday’s announcement could bring them out of the shadows.
“The announcement is meant to do a couple of things, the most important of which just to continue to shake people up,” Zelin told Insider. “Anyone who in Trump’s orbit hearing that announcement is probably, aside from the sphincter tightening, they’re immediately on the phone with their lawyer.”
Robbing Trump and his company of a strategy to challenge potential charges
It’s not clear whether the Manhattan DA or New York AG will bring charges and, if they do, what those charges may be. Prosecutors could charge Trump personally; charge only the Trump Organization; charge certain executives; or they may not bring charges at all.
The announcement of closer cooperation between the two offices could make it harder for Trump or the Trump Organization to evade litigation, however.
Defendants often try to dismiss or delay court proceedings based on jurisdictional issues. Vance’s office may have the authority to bring certain charges that James’s office doesn’t, and vice versa.
It’s common for defendants to argue the prosecutor who brought a case doesn’t have the authority to do so, and ask a judge to dismiss the case on those grounds. Prosecutors also sometimes try to take credit for major cases by claiming they have the sole authority to bring charges.
But the announcement that James’ office is working with Vance’s suggests they’ve worked out jurisdictional turfs between themselves, Zelin told Insider, making it less likely that Trump or his company can tie up their potential cases in the courts.
“There are times when there’s a clash of egos. And there are times when egos get put aside and there’s enough for everyone,” Zelin said. “I think here – when you’re talking about going after the former president of the United States, which in and of itself is going to be a daunting task – the agencies are very happy to say, OK, let’s divide and conquer here.”
Third-party investigators brought on by James to complete the probe have not yet said when they plan to release the results to the public. The Times, speaking to a person familiar with the investigation, reported that the investigation is expected to be finished by the end of this summer.
Since December, Cuomo has been hit one after the other with several sexual harassment accusations.
The first was from a former aide, who said she had been sexually harassed by the governor “for years.” At the time, Lindsey Boylan, who worked for the governor between 2015 and 2018, did not divulge specific information about the circumstances and declined to speak to journalists.
Cuomo’s office has repeatedly denied her claims. “As we said before, Ms. Boylan’s claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false,” Cuomo’s press secretary Caitlin Girouard said in a statement.
Since Boylan’s accusations surfaced, at least 10 other women have come forward with similar allegations of their own against the governor. Cuomo has also denied all the allegations from the women who’ve come forward.
“Harassment is not making someone feel uncomfortable,” the governor said, speaking to a reporter who asked about workplace harassment. “That is not harassment. If I just made you feel uncomfortable, that is not harassment. That is you feeling uncomfortable.”
A Texas judge is throwing out the National Rifle Association’s bankruptcy filing, saying that the case was filed in “bad faith” in an effort to avoid litigation in New York.
Judge Harlin Hale’s decision to throw out the case came after New York Attorney General Letitia James and others questioned the legitimacy of the bankruptcy filing. Law 360 first reported the ruling.
The NRA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on January 15 after James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the gun rights organization, alleging it abused its legal status as a nonprofit. In its August filing, New York prosecutors accused the group of corruption and said its longtime CEO Wayne LaPierre “instituted a culture of self-dealing, mismanagement, and negligent oversight.”
Prosecutors for James’s office viewed the bankruptcy filing as an attempt to squirm out of the litigation. Hale’s decision sides with those prosecutors, effectively giving a green light to James’s office to continue its lawsuit.
“A judge has ruled in our favor and rejected the @NRA’s attempt to claim bankruptcy and reorganize in Texas,” James said in a tweet Tuesday. “The @NRA does not get to dictate if and where it will answer for its actions, and our case will continue in New York court. No one is above the law.”
In court hearings, attorneys for the NRA have accused James of waging a political campaign against the organization. Closely aligned with Republican politicians, the NRA rallies its members to thwart gun safety laws typically supported by Democratic politicians. Research consistently shows that strict gun laws reduce gun violence. The NRA’s attorneys said that Texas, controlled by Republicans, would offer a regulatory haven for the organization.
The Justice Department stepped into the dispute earlier in May, saying the “evidentiary record clearly and convincingly establishes” that LaPierre failed to provide proper oversight and manipulated personal expenses so that they looked like business expenses.
Hale’s ruling permits the NRA to file for bankruptcy again, but he said that he would likely appoint a trustee to oversee the group if it does rather than leave LaPierre in control of the organization’s finances.
LaPierre is dealing with several other headaches in addition to litigation from the New York Attorney General’s office. In October, the Wall Street Journal reported he was under IRS investigation for possible criminal tax fraud. And in April, the Trace and the New Yorker published footage of him struggling to kill an elephant. The NRA said the publication of the video was intended to embarrass him.
The state AG alleges that Coinseed allocated investors’ money into dogecoin without permission.
Per the filing first viewed by Bloomberg, Coinseed on April 16 converted all investor assets into bitcoin “without notice or authorization” and disabled all functionality in the application, so that they will not be able to withdraw their money.
In the evening of the same day, Coinseed traded the bitcoins for dogecoin, described as “an extremely volatile virtual currency” in the filing, and which at that time was experiencing a sharp selloff.
“[The Office of Attorney General] has received dozens of complaints from investors describing that [Coinseed] conducted these unauthorized trades and transferred all investor assets into dogecoin,” the filing said.
An example of an investor complaint on April 17 was included. The investor alleged that Coinseed transferred all his cryptocurrency to dogecoin without his permission and blocked his ability to withdraw his money. From a $20,000 balance the night before, he said the transfer to dogecoin immediately dropped his balance to $7,000.
Four other complaints followed a similar narrative.
“Unregulated and fraudulent virtual currency trading platforms have no place in New York,” the Attorney General said in a statement.
She continued: “Three months ago, we filed this case against Coinseed and its executives alleging that they violated New York state laws and illegally squandered investors’ monies. However, in the months since we filed our suit, the greed perpetrated by Coinseed and its CEO has not only continued but grown.”
But in the last month, dogecoin has had a stellar performance. It is up more than 70% since the middle of April and is now the fifth-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization according to CoinGecko. It may also be enjoying institutional backing soon.
Still, James has alleged in her filing that Coinseed has “drained both bank and virtual currency accounts that held investor deposits and moved investor assets overseas.”
The AG said that in the nearly three months since James filed her lawsuit, they received over 130 complaints from investors regarding Coinseed’s conduct.
The Office has therefore asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction. They have also asked the court to appoint a receiver to oversee all assets in an effort to safeguard investments as the lawsuit proceeds.
Coinseed CEO Delger Davaasambuu, however, told The Block that the complaints were “full of false accusations.” The CEO maintained that Coinseed left New York in 2019 and has not accepted any users from New York since 2018.
As the meme cryptocurrency with the Shiba Inu as its mascot skyrocketed an astronomical 10,000% year-to-date, more and more people are jumping in.
The investigators leading the probe into the numerous sexual harassment allegations against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo are being paid as much as $750 an hour.
According to the New York Daily News, which obtained internal documents through FOIA requests, the investigators have wide, sweeping powers to conduct the investigation.
Attorney General Letitia James hired out the independent investigators after several women came forward with allegations that the governor made inappropriate and sexually harassing remarks or advances toward them.
Former Acting US Attorney for New York’s Southern District Joon Kim and employment discrimination attorney Anne Clark are in charge of spearheading the probe.
Their offices are “authorized to utilize any of its resources as it deems appropriate to carry out” the investigation, the documents say, according to the Daily News.
Both firms have been retained for a period of at least six months, the Daily News reported. But James is able to extend the contracts as she deems necessary.
Their work comes at a hefty cost, documents obtained by the Daily News reveal. Top-level partners working on the investigation receive as much as $750 per hour. Even mid- and lower-level partners are raking in large sums of money to carry out the probe. Mid-level partners, for example, get $575 per hour, and junior-level partners $500. Senior associates will receive $450 per hour and junior associates $325, the Daily News reported.
The investigators will prepare and deliver weekly progress reports to First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy. At the end of their investigation, they will produce a written report with all their findings and conclusions, the Daily News reported.
Since December, Cuomo has faced several sexual harassment accusations. The first one was from a former aide who in December said she had been sexually harassed by the governor “for years.” At the time, Lindsey Boylan, who worked for the governor between 2015 and 2018, did not divulge specific information about the circumstances and declined to speak to journalists.