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Probe of Cuomo coverup raised at Merrick Garland’s hearing

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Probe of Cuomo coverup raised at Merrick Garland's hearing

The scandal enveloping Gov. Andrew Cuomo seeped into the confirmation hearing for President Biden’s attorney general nominee Monday, when Merrick Garland was asked whether a reported federal probe would be compromised by the personal ties a top Cuomo aide shares with one of New York City’s two US attorneys.

Garland, a federal appeals judge, would oversee Manhattan US Attorney Audrey Strauss, the mother-in-law of Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa, who admitted the administration withheld the true number of deaths among nursing home residents due to COVID-19, her explosive remarks revealed earlier this month by The Post.

The Democratic governor has tried to walk back DeRosa’s remarks, saying she was referring to stonewalling of state legislators, rather than an Oct. 27 request for data from the Justice Department. Skeptics say DeRosa’s remarks seem to describe a stonewalling of the feds, too.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told Garland at his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing that he was concerned about Strauss’ role.

“In this instance, the acting US attorney is the mother in law of the senior official in the Cuomo administration that admitted to the coverup. Will you at least commit to not having the administrative investigation done by a person with a conflict of interest?” Cruz asked.

Garland said, “Of course.”

“I don’t know any of the facts, but I can guarantee you that somebody with a conflict of interest will not be the person running an investigation of any kind,” Garland said.

The Brooklyn-based US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Seth DuCharme, and the FBI reportedly are looking into the Democratic governor’s conduct. It’s unclear what role if any Manhattan’s Southern District, led by Strauss, is playing in the review.

In response to an initial question from Cruz about the reported probe, Garland told Cruz, “with all all of these investigations, the Justice Department is open to evidence of fraud, false statements violations of the law and normally begin in the appropriate way in the relevant US attorney’s office.”

Cuomo says state officials sent the Justice Department some information on Jan. 8 about nursing home deaths, but he has not publicly released the document.

The governor, who won an Emmy award for his COVID-19 press conferences and parlayed the pandemic into a best-selling book on his own leadership during the crisis, denies that a March 25 state rule barring nursing homes from turning away coronavirus-positive patients contributed significantly to New York’s 46,000 COVID-19 deaths.

The federal request for nursing home death data preceded a January report from New York state Attorney General Letitia James, who found a greater than 50 percent undercount of nursing home deaths in a sample of homes, forcing Health Commissioner Howard Zucker to revise figures upward to reflect 12,743 deaths as of Jan. 19.

DeRosa told state legislators that when the Justice Department requested complete death data on nursing homes “we froze” out of fear that the true numbers would “be used against us” by federal prosecutors.

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Florida snorkeler finds $1.5 million worth of cocaine

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Florida snorkeler finds $1.5 million worth of cocaine

A snorkeler off the Florida Keys found 25 bricks of cocaine on Wednesday, authorities said.

The drugs were contained inside a floating bale and were valued at over $1.5 million, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

The snorkeler alerted authorities to the find.

The snorkeler “noticed a large black bundle wrapped in tape & contacted local authorities,” Chief Border Patrol Agent Thomas Martin wrote on Twitter.

Border Patrol agents responded and retrieved the drugs.

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Texas power operators overcharged companies $16 billion

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Texas power operators overcharged companies $16 billion

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas made a massive error that resulted in $16 billion in overcharges last month when millions of residents were left without power after a historic winter storm, according to a watchdog that oversees the power grid operator.

ERCOT set the maximum price of electricity at $9,000 per megawatt-hour, which caused the massive overcharges from 12 a.m. Feb. 18 to 9 a.m. Feb. 19., Bloomberg reported, citing Texas’ independent market monitor Potomac Economics.

The firm sent a letter to regulators recommending the pricing be corrected and that the $16 billion overcharge should be reversed.

The error also led several electric companies such as EDF Renewable Energy and Just Energy to ask the Public Utility Commission to reset the pricing, and others have asked regulators to waive their payments until the issue was resolved.

“If we don’t act to stabilize things, a worst-case scenario is that people will go under,” Carrie Bivens, a vice president at Potomac Economics, told Bloomberg. “It creates a cascading effect.”

More than 4.5 million customers were left without power during the storm, which claimed the lives of dozens of Texans amid record freezing temperatures.

Four ERCOT board members resigned after coming under fire for not living in the state and for their handling of the power outages.

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Tales of Cuomo’s toxic work environment go back to AG days

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Tales of Cuomo's toxic work environment go back to AG days

Gov. Cuomo created a toxic work environment that dates back at least to his time as state attorney general — and includes rages that can last for days, former aides and associates said Thursday.

Cuomo once chewed out an aide so harshly that “he made her cry,” a source familiar with the incident recalled. “Young people work for him thinking they will rise up with him. Older people are stuck because they need a job and benefits.’’ 

Back when he was AG from 2007 through 2010, Cuomo viciously teed off on a veteran State Police investigator in his 60s who accidentally mispronounced his name as “Como,” according to a source familiar with that incident. 

“What’s my name?” Cuomo thundered in front of a group of people. “How do you pronounce it? Spell it!”

In addition to berating the cop, Cuomo transferred him out of his security detail.

During his 2018 gubernatorial re-election campaign, an insider recalled, Cuomo apparently became “livid” just because his Republican challenger, Marc Molinaro, suddenly appeared at the Manhattan’s Columbus Day Parade and shook his hand.

A Cuomo spokesman said the governor “had a great time at the parade.”

“‎Many of us have been here for years and others have left and come back,“ senior adviser Rich Azzopardi said in a statement. “This job isn’t for everyone but we work hard every day to deliver for New Yorkers, and from a $15 minimum wage, to the strongest gun safety laws in the nation to free public college tuition we’ve cut through the red tape and delivered for New York.”

Meanwhile, the recent allegation by Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens) that Cuomo threatened to “destroy” him isn’t the first time the governor has engaged in that sort of intimidation, according to a source who formerly worked with him.

About five years ago, the source said, he heard Cuomo bellowing into a phone, “I will destroy you!”

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