NEW SCOTLAND, N.Y. — Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple says he was “sandbagged” by the release of the criminal complaint against former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but said that doesn’t hurt the chances of what he characterized as a “solid case.”
“We have an overwhelming amount of evidence. We have a victim who has been cooperating fully every day, every step of the way,” Apple said at a news briefing Friday. “As far as a conviction … it’s really going to come down to a jury, a judge, and the district attorney’s office.”
A misdemeanor complaint on charges of forcible touching against Cuomo was released Thursday. It involves allegations the former governor groped former staffer Brittany Commisso at the Executive Mansion in Albany last year.
The first news of the complaint led to significant confusion. Some reports Thursday afternoon said Cuomo was due to be imminently arrested, while others said the complaint was made in error.
Apple said he, too, was confused
The standard procedure in a case like this involves dropping information off at a courthouse and waiting on court officials to review it before charges are made, he said. That “normally takes a little bit of time.”
But this time around, it took “five to 10 minutes” before the complaint was made and word began to leak.
“We did not anticipate a quick return like that, nor did we anticipate everything would be posted on the internet,” Apple said. “I would have liked to … have [had] a deeper conversation with the district attorney, I would have liked to reach out to [Rita] Glavin, Cuomo’s attorney, and explain what was going on. But needless to say, the document was released.”
“We kind of got sandbagged ourselves, and I kind of feel bad about how it happened,” he said.
Apple repeatedly said the unanticipated rollout does not affect the quality of the charges: “The case is a solid case, our victim is cooperative, and we’re moving forward,” he said.
The sheriff also noted that Davis Polk, the law firm retained by the Assembly in its impeachment investigation into Cuomo, was a “very valuable asset.” The sheriff’s investigators and the firm “shared some information back and forth.”
Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi pointed to the presence of state Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Tish James’ investigation into the former governor in the list of evidence that will be brought by Apple.
“Tish James abused her office to falsely accuse Governor Cuomo because she was afraid to confront him in an election and let the people decide,” Azzopardi said. “Apple is only regurgitating her sham report, and has no corroborating evidence whatsoever of a crime. In this case, Apple is literally fruit of the poisonous tree.”
“That’s a pretty good pun,” Apple replied. “I’d rather they throw it at me than revictimize the victims over and over.”