ALBANY, N.Y. — Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s legal team is accusing Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple of illegally leaking grand jury information to the media.
Attorney Rita Glavin released a letter Monday calling on New York Attorney General Letitia James to open an investigation into Apple, whose office filed a forcible touching charge against Cuomo last month.
Glavin wants an investigation “into the unlawful disclosure … of grand jury information relating to Governor Cuomo and the strong evidence that Albany County Sheriff Craig D. Apple was the source of that unlawful disclosure.”
The letter calls on James, whose office oversaw a five-month probe into sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo, to appoint an independent prosecutor to conduct the investigation into Apple.
The sheriff’s office accused the 63-year-old Democrat of allegedly groping former staffer Brittany Commisso at the Executive Mansion last December, a misdemeanor that carries a sentence of up to a year in prison.
Commisso is one of nearly a dozen women whose allegations were outlined in a bombshell report released by James’ office in August, prompting Cuomo’s resignation.
Cuomo’s arraignment was pushed back last week to Jan. 7 after Albany County district attorney David Soares said last week the criminal charge was “potentially defective” and at “risk of a procedural dismissal.”
“We were in the middle of that investigation when the Sheriff unilaterally and inexplicably filed a complaint in this Court,” Soares wrote to the judge on the case.
Apple admitted last month he did not expect the criminal summons to be filed and made public but has said he stands by the work of his investigators.
A redacted version of the charging document obtained by the New York Daily News over the weekend reveals that Apple’s investigators based their case on flight records, text messages, emails and a partial transcript of testimony Commisso gave to investigators working under James.
“I remember looking down and I remember seeing his hand which is, I would say a large hand and over my bra and I remember looking down and being like, excuse my Ianguage, holy s—, this just like went from zero to 60 in .2 seconds,” Commisso told the independent attorneys running the probe.
There are also helicopter flight records that show the ex-governor was in Albany at the time and security card swipes that verify the ex-aide had visited the mansion during the time in question.
Soares last week cast doubt on the evidence, chiding the Apple’s office for not conferring with his team and indicating that there are other statements from Commisso that could exonerate Cuomo.
Excluded from the criminal complaint was a transcript of Commisso’s statement given in a separate proceeding and provided to Cuomo’s counsel “due to its exculpatory nature.”
In calling for an independent prosecutor to probe the potential grand jury leaks, Glavin tried to claim that Apple and James, who announced her gubernatorial bid a day after the charge was filed against Cuomo, are conspiring against the fallen politician.
As evidence of a relationship, Glavin notes that following a 2019 meeting between James and a group of sheriffs, Apple described the AG as “awesome.”
Last week, Cuomo tweeted that “Sheriff Apple and Tish James have epitomized the worst combination of politics, incompetence and abuse of the law.”
Rich Azzopardi, Cuomo’s spokesman, reiterated that the Albany sheriff’s report has no corroborating evidence whatsoever of a crime.
Under a law signed by Cuomo last year, the attorney general’s office is tasked with investigating any complaints of criminal activity made against a police department or sheriff’s office in the state.
Under the statute, the Law Enforcement Misconduct Investigative Office can determine whether the allegations should lead to “disciplinary action, civil or criminal prosecution, or further investigation” by an appropriate agency.
A spokesman for James declined to comment.