Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s cover-up of nursing home deaths from COVID-19 could lead to federal criminal charges, a former assistant attorney general has warned.
In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, John Daukas — who was acting attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division under President Trump — insisted that the multi-agency probe was “serious, perhaps meriting federal criminal charges.”
Daukas said Cuomo’s executive order last March requiring New York nursing homes to admit hospitalized patients who had tested positive for COVID-19 “led to many more tragic and unnecessary deaths than were reported to the public.”
“And his administration appears to have engaged in a coverup designed to frustrate the federal government’s oversight efforts,” Daukas wrote in the op-ed posted late Sunday.
“New York’s apparently false statements about nursing-home deaths misled public-health officials across the country at a time when they were trying to develop strategies to battle a deadly pandemic,” he wrote.
“Ms. DeRosa’s reported admissions indicate the Cuomo administration’s conduct wasn’t merely negligent, but intentional and perhaps criminal,” Daukas wrote.
“Numerous federal criminal statutes could apply,” he warned.
“It’s a crime to make false statements to the federal government. It’s also a crime to conceal information and otherwise obstruct government investigations.
“New York may have engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and its agencies and possibly obstruct justice, among other crimes,” he stressed.
“Even if it cannot be proved that the Cuomo administration knowingly provided false information to Justice and [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services], New York’s willful failure to provide information may itself constitute a criminal offense — particularly if the intent was to thwart a federal investigation — which, after all, is exactly what Ms. DeRosa reportedly said the administration did,” he wrote.