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ALBANY — New York state taxpayers will be picking up the tab for the high-powered defense lawyer representing Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his aides in the cover-up of nursing home deaths from COVID-19, the attorney acknowledged Tuesday.
Elkan Abramowitz, a former high-ranking federal prosecutor, declined to say how much he’s billing for his top-tier legal services.
But in 2016, Abramowitz charged the state a “discounted rate” of $937.50 an hour to represent Cuomo in connection with his premature shuttering of the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption.
His firm — Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello — raked in a total of $3.1 million in connection with that case, according to records posted online by the state comptroller’s office.
The Moreland Commission’s files were later seized by then-Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara and used in part to convict former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) on fraud and extortion charges.
The comptroller’s office said a copy of Abramowitz’s latest, “sole source” contract with the governor’s office — which isn’t subject to competitive bidding — wasn’t available for public review.
The rate that Abramowitz charged in 2016 is more than half again as much as the $600 an hour that the Assembly Judiciary Committee is paying its outside lawyers for a pending impeachment investigation of Cuomo.
That contract is currently capped at a total of $250,000 in spending, an amount that critics contend is not nearly enough to address all of the scandals plaguing the governor.
Cuomo hired Abramowitz in early March in connection with an ongoing probe by the FBI and the Brooklyn US Attorney’s Office.
That investigation was launched after The Post exclusively revealed that top Cuomo aide Melissa de Rosa privately admitted to Democratic lawmakers that his administration withheld data on how many nursing home residents were killed by COVID-19.
Three lawmakers — including state Senate Health Committee Chairman Gustavo Rivera (D-The Bronx) — told The Post on Thursday that they’d been interviewed by the feds.
Lawyers from two additional firms have also been hired to represent Cuomo’s staff — Arnold & Porter as well as Walden Macht & Haran.
Nearly 14,000 residents died in nursing homes or after being transferred to hospitals of the virus since the pandemic’s start, according to state records.
State Attorney General Letitia James’ office has opened an investigation into claims made by current and former Cuomo staffers, and has started a separate probe into whether or not the governor’s office misused state resources to write his book.
The state Assembly Judiciary Committee has also opened a multifaceted inquiry into misconduct allegations, the nursing home scandal, his book deal and the construction of the new Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.
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