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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Paterson faces ethics charges for accepting free tickets to the first game of last year's World Series

New York's Commission on Public Integrity is charging Gov. David Paterson with an ethics violation for accepting free tickets to the first game of last year's World Series, the commission said Wednesday.

Paterson violated the state's restriction on gifts for public officials in October when he sought free tickets to the game in Yankee Stadium between the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies, the commission said. The commission also said Paterson lied under oath about intending to pay for the tickets.

The governor's office said it was reviewing the commission's findings.

"Governor Paterson maintains his innocence and intends to challenge the findings of the commission both with respect to the law and the facts," the office said.

"The governor takes this matter very seriously and intends to fully cooperate with any further inquiries or investigations, but believes the commission has acted unfairly in this matter."

The governor could face an $80,000 fine for violating the state's gift ban for public officials and up to $10,000 if he is found to have used his official position to secure unwarranted privileges.

The commission has asked New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and the Albany County district attorney to investigate whether Paterson or "anyone else" committed a crime during the governor's interview with the commission and by causing a check to be back-dated.

Paterson, who announced last week that he would not run for election to a full term, has faced controversy since news reports charged that his aide was involved in a domestic violence incident with a woman and that state police later allegedly pressured her to keep quiet.

The aide, David Johnson, has been suspended without pay.

Paterson has asked Cuomo, a possible contender for the governor's office, to investigate the matter.

Johnson was among the four guests who attended the October 28 game with Paterson, the Commission on Public Integrity said. He also was involved in obtaining the tickets, which cost $425 a piece, from the Yankees, the commission said in its notice of reasonable cause.

According to the commission, the governor testified that he decided he should attend Game One of the World Series and directed Johnson to get tickets from the Yankees. The governor told his aide that the request should include tickets for his son, Alex, and his son's friend. (continues here at CNN)

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