U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss’s family and other élites received “special” access to, and priority processing of, COVID-19 tests at a time when they were new and scarce.
By Progress New York Staff
Updated 20 May 2021 13:00 The Nation’s top Federal prosecutor in Manhattan, U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss, did not receive special access to COVID-19 testing, according to information obtained by Progress New York, even though some members of her family did, like, Melissa DeRosa, her daughter-in-law. The restraint shown by U.S. Attorney Strauss to not receive special access to COVID-19 testing stands in stark contrast to other public officials, who appeared to use their official capacities to receive testing that was not widely available to the general public. In early 2020, the public was shocked into panic after the Government, which at first refused to take the Coronavirus pandemic seriously, suddenly ordered a confinement that ceased all nonessential employment, commerce, and activity.
During those early weeks, Ms. DeRosa and other political and business élites received preferential access to COVID-19 testing and priority processing. Some of the preferential testing has continued until as late as last month, according to a report published by the New York Times. Ms. DeRosa’s father, the influential Albany lobbyist, Giorgio DeRosa, was also provided a scarce COVID-19 test in March 2020 “at the request” of the Governor’s office, according to the report.
Mr. DeRosa and Ms. DeRosa, the top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), received the preferential treatment due to their “close and regular contact” with Gov. Cuomo and other pandemic response officials, the report revealed.
The information obtained by Progress New York comes as the press office supporting the U.S. Attorney’s Office for New York’s southern district has routinely failed to understand that, due to corruption and the culture of political retaliation, Government accountability and transparency in New York depend on active oversight and involvement by Federal prosecutors.
The special treatment flew in the face of a ban against “privileges or exemptions.”
Some of the preferential COVID-19 tests were administered as “house calls” for élites, and the tests had to be rushed to a State laboratory, where they were marked as “specials.” State Health officials were forced to provide Gov. Cuomo’s colleagues with V.I.P. treatment, staying extra long hours in laboratories in order to process the COVID-19 tests and then provide telephonic notification of test results, according to the report. The preferential treatment appeared to violate a prohibition applicable to State employees against undeservedly receiving Government “property, services or other resources,” according to State law cited by the report. Federal prosecutors from the Brooklyn counterpart to U.S. Attorney Strauss’s office, who are reportedly probing accusations of obstruction of justice by the Cuomo administration, are reportedly now looking into the preferential access to COVID-19 testing, according to the report. The widening of the probe was first revealed in a report published by the Wall Street Journal.
As reported by Progress New York, U.S. Attorney Strauss remains in office, despite a request by the Biden administration that Trump-era U.S. Attorney’s step down. Her term as U.S. Attorney has been marked by controversies, including her office’s steadfast defense of the New York Police Department, despite accusations of Constitutional and civil rights abuses lodged against the police force. The New York City Housing Authority was permitted to breach without consequence a Settlement Agreement negotiated by her office. Colleen McMahon, the former chief judge for Manhattan’s U.S. District Court, has criticised the unconstitutional conditions at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, over which U.S. Attorney Strauss’s office has jurisdiction. In 2019, the financier Jeffrey Epstein died whilst in the Federal lock-up as he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges.
Gov. Cuomo’s office did not immediately answer a media request for this report.
- U.S. Federal inquiry into Gov. Cuomo widens to examine Coronavirus tests for ‘‘specials’’ [The New York Times]
- Cuomo’s Family Is Said to Have Received Special Access to Virus Tests [The New York Times]
- SIDEBAR : Audrey Strauss is hanging on — but for what ? [Progress New York]
- Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo aide in nursing home cover-up, is related to top Federal prosecutor, Audrey Strauss [The New York Post]