Home Nurse Facilities Justice Department Refuses to Investigate New York Public Nursing Facilities

Justice Department Refuses to Investigate New York Public Nursing Facilities



ALBANY – Republicans expressed outrage on Friday that the US Department of Justice is not opening an investigation into policies in New York and several other states that have prompted nursing homes to take in residents who were discharged from hospitals but still tested positive for COVID-19.

But the Justice Department’s Civil Division decision does not mark the end of an ongoing criminal investigation into Gov, the administration of Andrew M. Cuomo by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, which is also reviewing policies. nursing homes in the state and the number of deaths in those facilities that had been reported by state officials.

In a letter to U.S. Representative Steve Scalise, a prominent Republican House member on the coronavirus crisis subcommittee on Friday, an attorney for the Justice Department’s legislative affairs office said he refused to open an investigation under civil rights laws related to all public nursing facilities in New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan and New Jersey.

There are only a handful of public nursing homes in New York, however – a fact that was highlighted when DOJ officials initially sent a letter to New York officials last summer requesting data and information specific to these establishments.

Despite the ongoing investigation by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, GOP lawmakers and party leaders in New York on Friday began quickly issuing statements criticizing the Justice Department’s decision – a move that was revealed to the first time a day earlier when Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf was told the department would not. investigate any potential violation of the federal government relating to the public policies of nursing homes in that state.

A spokesperson for Cuomo said on Friday afternoon that his office had not received a separate letter or other notification from the Department of Justice that he would not pursue the civil investigation. It is not clear whether this request was related or spurred on by the ongoing investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn.

A delegation of federal lawmakers from New York had called on the Justice Department to conduct a broad investigation into the Cuomo administration’s management of nursing homes, including a directive in March 2020 that required the facilities to house residents of the nursing home. COVID-19. The directive, which was repealed a few weeks later, caused many nursing home operators to welcome residents who were positive for the infectious disease, leading to further spread within facilities.

United States Representative Elise Stefanik R-Schuylerville issued a statement Friday afternoon calling the Civil Unit’s decision a “serious miscarriage of justice” and noting that the New York delegation’s request for a broader inquiry had been rejected.

“This decision by President Biden’s Justice Department makes President Biden complicit in the criminal corruption scandal and cover up the deaths of thousands of vulnerable elderly people,” Stefanik said. “New Yorkers deserve answers and accounts. I was the first congressman to call for an investigation into Governor Cuomo’s corrupt criminal cover-up and will continue to fight for the families who have lost loved ones to because of the cruelty and corruption of our governor.

In April, Cuomo’s office, citing ongoing investigations, rejected a Times Union request to make public its correspondence with the Justice Department regarding the administration’s management of nursing homes and other nursing homes. long lasting during the coronavirus pandemic.

The correspondence sought by The Times Union was sparked, in part, by a letter dated August 26, 2020 to Cuomo from the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice who sought a wealth of documents from the administration regarding the relatively small number. of public nursing homes in New York, including “any guidance, directives, notices or decrees issued by the state regarding the admission of persons to public nursing homes … as well as the effective dates of each of these documents ”.

About 7 percent of New York City’s 630 nursing homes are operated by state or local government agencies.

The Department of Justice then sought similar files from Michigan, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, noting in a statement that these states and New York had “forced nursing homes to admit COVID-19 patients to their homes. vulnerable populations, often without adequate testing ”.

In October, the same Justice Department unit sent a second letter to New York – this time to the state health department – requesting records of private nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. At New York.

The Cuomo administration’s interactions with the Department of Justice since last year, including all data provided to the US Department of Health and Human Services, have been the subject of a separate investigation by the FBI and the US attorney’s office in Brooklyn. The investigation, which was first reported by The Times Union on February 17, is ongoing and has included interviews with dozens of current and former New York State Department of Health officials.

The investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn is one of at least five separate Cuomo administration investigations that are still ongoing. They include a review of allegations of sexual harassment against the governor; its $ 5 million book contract which may have involved the use of state resources; nursing home policies and data reports under its jurisdiction; and preferential coronavirus testing for family members and others with ties to the administration.

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