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Paterson faces ethics charges over tickets

Associated Press / March 4, 2010

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ALBANY, N.Y. - New York Governor David Paterson, trying to hold onto office in the face of one scandal, was accused yesterday of violating state ethics laws when he sought and obtained free Yankees tickets for the 2009 World Series and then may have lied about his intention to pay for them, according to a state report.

He faces penalties of nearly $100,000, and the case was referred to the Albany County prosecutor’s office and the state attorney general for possible criminal investigation into whether Paterson or anyone else gave false answers to questions by the Public Integrity Commission or backdated a check to pay for the tickets.

The charge is not directly related to the scandal now plaguing Paterson over contact he and others in his administration had with a woman who accused a top Paterson aide of domestic violence. But the panel said the aide in the scandal, David Johnson, was one of Paterson’s four guests, along with Paterson’s son and a son’s friend, getting tickets for the Oct. 28 World Series game provided by the Yankees.

Four days later, also in the Bronx, Johnson was accused of domestic violence by his then-girlfriend, a case that now threatens Paterson’s job and administration. The ticket scandal may ultimately be more damaging to the governor, especially given the timing.

“I, at all times, upheld the oath of my office and never at any point attempted to influence or coerce anyone to do anything they didn’t want to do,’’ Paterson told reporters yesterday.