Feds Take Over NY Panel’s Anti-Corruption Cases

ALBANY (AP) -

Federal prosecutors are taking the remaining files of New York’s anti-corruption commission as the panel shuts down, and they plan to complete the state investigations, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Thursday.

Bharara’s Manhattan office will move aggressively to complete the Moreland commission’s “important and unfinished work” investigating New York political corruption, he said. In a letter to commissioners Wednesday, he called the closing “premature,” but noted that they have agreed to provide him the “investigative files and all relevant materials.”

“The bottom line for us is we are prosecutors and care deeply about public corruption,” Bharara said. “We just want to get our hands on the files.”

In a radio interview Thursday, Bharara declined to say whether his investigation will extend to Gov. Andrew Cuomo in light of a New York Times report that some top Cuomo aides meddled in the work of the supposedly independent commission. In one case, they persuaded the panel to delay a subpoena to the Real Estate Board of New York whose leaders have donated to his political campaigns.

Cuomo established the investigations panel last year and decided to close it two weeks ago.

“It was a temporary commission. I was not establishing a permanent bureaucracy,” Cuomo told reporters in suburban Rochester on Thursday. “We needed laws changed, and that’s what Moreland was about.”

Bharara said it was established last year with “a lot of fanfare” and a public impression of active an ongoing investigations, some of which would result in criminal charges. Then it seemed to be “unceremoniously” shut down, raising questions among thinking people.