N.Y. Today: Cuomo’s case is dropped

What you need to know for Wednesday.

Good morning. It's Wednesday. We'll look at the latest development in the sexual harassment scandal involving former Gov. Andrew Cuomo. We'll also look at the end of the reign of Coney Island's unofficial mayor, who says he was fired by an organization he started.

Carlo Allegri/Reuters

Three days before former Gov. Andrew Cuomo was to be arraigned, the district attorney in Albany announced that he would not face prosecution in a case involving allegations that he groped a former aide in the Executive Mansion in 2020.

David Soares, the Albany County district attorney, said the woman, Brittany Commisso, was "cooperative and credible." But he said he could not prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt.

My colleagues Luis Ferré-Sadurní and Grace Ashford write that Soares's decision closed a high-profile case that was delineated not just by its explosive nature, but by missteps in the way it was handled. It raised tensions between Soares and the Albany County sheriff, Craig Apple Sr., who took the unusual step of filing the single misdemeanor charge against Cuomo without consulting Soares. Cuomo's camp insisted the case was politically motivated, although Apple and Soares are Democrats, as is Cuomo.

The charge was the most serious threat facing Cuomo, a once-powerful figure who rose to national prominence with his televised briefings during the coronavirus pandemic. He resigned in August, after the state attorney general's office issued a report that said he had sexually harassed 11 women. One was an unnamed state trooper who said she had felt "completely violated" after Cuomo touched her inappropriately.


Soares's decision not to prosecute Cuomo, a development first reported by the Times Union of Albany, marked the third time a district attorney had declined to pursue a case against Cuomo over sexual misconduct allegations.

Also, the Manhattan district attorney has closed an investigation into Cuomo's handling of nursing home deaths early in the pandemic, according to a lawyer for Cuomo who was briefed by prosecutors on Monday.

Hoping to undermine Commisso's credibility, Cuomo's lawyers seized on what they said were inconsistencies with dates in her account. She first told investigators for the attorney general that the incident in the Executive Mansion took place in November 2020, possibly on Nov. 16. Apple, the sheriff, working with investigators for the State Assembly, concluded that a more likely date was Dec. 7.


Apple's office spent more than three months investigating Commisso's account before filing the charge against Cuomo. Not consulting Soares was seen by some as a tactic to make headlines or a strategy to force Soares to take the case to trial.

Soares did not commit to doing so. He wrote to the judge overseeing the case in November, calling the complaint filed by Apple's office "potentially defective" and saying that he would need time to wrap up his own investigation of Cuomo. Judge Holly Trexler of Albany Criminal Court postponed Cuomo's arraignment, originally scheduled for Nov. 17, to Jan. 7.


Prepare for a chance of rain with temps in the mid-40s. The evening will be cloudy with wind gusts and temps in the mid-30s.


In effect today. Suspended tomorrow (Three Kings' Day).



Adams resists pressure for more remote work and online learning

Mayor Eric Adams is resisting pressure from municipal unions and elected officials to do more as coronavirus cases surge and hospitalizations rise.

He urged employers to call their staffs back to the office, telling Bloomberg TV on Monday that "you can't run New York City from home." On Tuesday, he defended his decision to reopen schools at a time when some school systems — including those in Atlanta, Cleveland, Milwaukee and Newark — were switching remote learning. "I'm not going to allow the hysteria to prevent the future of my children receiving a quality education," he said on CNN.

New York City reported just over 38,000 new virus cases on Monday, about a third less than the recent peak on Dec. 26.

Some public officials have called for more aggressive measures against the Omicron-fueled surge, among them Mark Levine, the new Manhattan borough president. He released a 16-point plan on Monday that called on the city to encourage New Yorkers to avoid large gatherings, to allow city employees to work from home temporarily and to require masks at all indoor settings for vaccinated and unvaccinated New Yorkers.

"We need to act now to slow this wave, protect our hospitals and support the sick," he said.

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The reign of Coney Island's 'mayor' ends

Emon Hassan for The New York Times

Dick Zigun — a tattooed heir of sorts to P.T. Barnum — has reigned as the unelected mayor of Coney Island since the seediness of the 1970s. He threw himself into restoring its carnivalesque glory, opening a circus sideshow and a museum and the annual Mermaid Parade.

Now, in a squabble over money, he has been fired by Coney Island USA, the nonprofit he helped start.

James Fitzsimmons, Coney Island USA's executive director, disputed Zigun's characterization of his departure, saying it was part of a planned transition that Zigun upended by demanding a pension. Fitzsimmons said that Zigun had been offered a severance package but was "convinced that someone owes him a retirement or, you know, security for the rest of his life."

"It's just not possible, and he's known that for years," Fitzsimmons declared.

Zigun — a sometimes prickly character with a flair for promotion (and self-promotion) — countered that the severance offer was well short of what he deserved.

The rupture comes after what Fitzsimmons called a "very horrible period" brought on by the pandemic. The Mermaid Parade, which organizers call "the nation's largest art parade" and which drew 800,000 people in 2019, went online in 2020. It was shelved entirely last summer, with Surf Avenue serving instead as a vaccination site after the Delta variant of the coronavirus emerged.

The Coney Island Circus Sideshow, which Zigun started in the mid-1980s, features a roster of people who eat fire and swallow swords, among them performers like Adam Rinn, Zigun's designated successor as artistic director of Coney Island USA. Rinn, 50, saw his first Coney Island show when he was 15 and went on to learn to handle swords and fire — and to walk on glass, lie on a bed of nails and hammer nails into his face. "I guess I'd be considered a quick learner," he said.

Zigun said the problems began when he turned 60 and asked the board of Coney Island USA about a pension. The board said no, and he asserted intellectual property rights over the parade and the sideshow, he said.

He said he "would be left destitute" by the severance he was offered.

"What am I going to do after the money runs out?" asked Zigun, who was paid $66,528 as artistic director in 2019, according to a tax filing.

But as of Tuesday, it appeared that he and Coney Island USA were negotiating a more amicable resolution. The 40th annual Mermaid Parade is scheduled for June 18.

What we're reading


On second thought

Dear Diary:

In the spring of my senior year at SUNY Maritime College in the Bronx, beneath the Throgs Neck Bridge, I and the other N.R.O.T.C. cadets were invited aboard a brand-new Navy destroyer that was making a port call in Manhattan.

After the tour, we changed and headed out for an evening on the town. I left my uniform in a cheap-but-nice-looking fake leather bag in the back seat of a classmate's VW Beetle. At the time, I was not concerned that the door locks didn't work.

When we got back to the car, it was immediately apparent that my bag was missing. What took a while to figure out was that the thief had apparently had reservations about stealing a Navy uniform.

It had been placed in a Gristede's bag and returned to the car.

— Robert Fey

Glad we could get together here. See you tomorrow. — J.B.

Melissa Guerrero, Geordon Wollner and Olivia Parker contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team at nytoday@nytimes.com.

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