Ex-NY gov won't be charged in Yankee tickets rap

May 21, 2011 - 7:44 PM
NY Governor Yankee Tickets

FILE - In this Aug. 31, 2009 file photo, New York Governor David Patterson participates in a press conference to announce a benefit concert to be held at Madison Square Garden, in New York. Former New York Gov. David Paterson won't be charged with perjury on accusations that he lied about taking free Yankees tickets for the 2009 World Series while he was in office. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini, File)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Former New York Gov. David Paterson won't be charged with perjury on allegations that he lied about taking free Yankees tickets for the 2009 World Series while he was in office, a spokeswoman for the Albany County district attorney said Saturday.

Albany County District Attorney David Soares informed Paterson's lawyer in a letter Wednesday that his office won't pursue perjury charges, according to Soares spokeswoman Heather Oarth.

A spokesperson for Paterson had no immediate comment.

The Commission on Public Integrity charged in a report last year that Paterson violated ethics laws when he contradicted his staff, the Yankees and common sense by falsely claiming he always intended to pay for the tickets. The commission fined him $62,125.

In the report, the commission said Paterson performed no ceremonial function at the game, which still would not have entitled him to free tickets for his son and son's friend. The others were used by the governor and the two staff members. He and two of his staff paid for four of the tickets a few days later.

"The moral and ethical tone of any organization is set at the top. Unfortunately, the governor set a totally inappropriate tone by his dishonest and unethical conduct," commission Chairman Michael Cherkasky said in the report. "Such conduct cannot be tolerated by any New York State employee, particularly our governor."

The commission said the civil penalty consists of the $2,125 value of the tickets and $60,000 for three violations of the state's public officer's law.

Paterson paid the fine but had said it was his duty to attend the opening series game at the new Bronx stadium.

There was a question whether the Democratic governor gave "intentionally false testimony" to the commission about having written an $850 check in advance for two tickets, special counsel Judith Kaye, the state's former chief judge, said in a report.

However, Kaye said the perjury issue was "clouded" by the way Paterson's commission testimony was given, with the entries read aloud to the legally blind governor, instead of him personally examining a check that was not filled out in his own handwriting.

Paterson attorney Theodore Wells Jr. said then that Paterson didn't lie, and he noted Kaye's report didn't recommend bringing charges.

However, she said the evidence warranted consideration of criminal charges.

In the letter, Soares did not dispute the charges but said there was not sufficient evidence to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. A criminal case requires a higher burden of proof, Oarth said.

The letter was first reported by the Daily News.