Manhattan DA's office will not charge Cuomo with COVID nursing home deaths -lawyer

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FILE PHOTO: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo arrives to depart in his helicopter after announcing his resignation in Manhattan, New York City

By Kanishka Singh

(Reuters) -The Manhattan District Attorney's office will not file criminal charges in connection with the handling of coronavirus deaths in New York nursing homes during the tenure of former Governor Andrew Cuomo, his representative said on Monday.

"I was contacted today by the head of the Elder Care Unit from the Manhattan District Attorney's Office who informed me they have closed its investigation involving the Executive Chamber and nursing homes," attorney Elkan Abramowitz said in a statement.

"I was told that after a thorough investigation – as we have said all along – there was no evidence to suggest that any laws were broken."

The DA's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cuomo was "not fully transparent" on the number of COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes, state lawmakers said in November while summarizing the results of an investigation.

Nursing homes across the United States took in COVID-19 patients in the early weeks of the outbreak, a move critics say spread the sometimes fatal respiratory virus among some of the country's most vulnerable at a time when there was no vaccine.

The issue dogged Cuomo in particular and helped spark a reassessment of his legacy. In the early stages of the pandemic, Cuomo's daily televised news briefings made him a national figure in the fight against COVID-19.

But he eventually battled allegations, including from New York state's attorney general, that his office had significantly undercounted nursing home fatalities and implemented policies that may have boosted the death toll.

In July, the U.S. Justice Department decided not to open a civil rights investigation into nursing homes in New York and two other states regarding their COVID-19 response.

Cuomo resigned a little over four months ago when a report from state Attorney General Letitia James accused him of sexual harassment and other transgressions.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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