Ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his then-top aide, Melissa DeRosa, were allegedly spotted by a state police bodyguard “making out on the sidewalk like high schoolers,” The Post has learned.

The alleged May-December romance was apparently revealed in the sworn testimony of a female state trooper who has accused Cuomo of sexually harassing her and whose interview transcript was released by Attorney General Letitia James earlier this week.

Although DeRosa isn’t identified as Cuomo’s kissing partner in the 143-page document, three sources with knowledge of the proceedings said her name is among several that were blacked out and replaced with job titles, which in her case is “Senior Staffer #1” — the person with whom the then-governor was allegedly seen canoodling.

The unseemly possibility of Cuomo, 63, getting hot and heavy with the married DeRosa, 39, emerged during the probe that uncovered evidence he sexually harassed 11 women — including nine current or former state workers — while serving as the state’s highest elected official.

James’ Aug. 3 report detailing the avalanche of allegations led Cuomo to resign under pressure of impeachment a week later and now has him facing a misdemeanor charge for allegedly groping the breast of another aide, 33-year-old Brittany Commisso, inside Albany’s Executive Mansion, the governor’s official residence.

During a May 19 Zoom interview, the unidentified trooper — who served on Cuomo’s security detail — was asked by an outside lawyer hired by James whether her colleagues ever said they “observed anything between the Governor” and any of his Executive Chamber subordinates, according to the transcript.

“I had heard from Senior Investigator #1 that he once witnessed the Governor and Senior Staffer #1 like making out on the sidewalk like they were high schoolers,” the trooper answered.

“Again, he told me this. I didn’t witness this. I wasn’t even here at the time. But that’s what I had heard.”

When asked by lawyer Anne Clark if she’d heard “anything else,” the trooper said, “I heard a rumor that before Senior Staffer #1 [redacted] that the Governor and her were in a hotel room by themselves for like an hour. And then one of the two left the room.”

It’s unclear from the transcript what event or action followed the time Cuomo and Senior Staffer #1 allegedly spent in the hotel room, as all the apparent references to it are blacked out.

“I had also heard that — again, rumor — I heard that there was a guy named [redacted] here. I don’t know how to spell his last name,” the trooper said.

“But he was driving once and saw Senior Staffer #1 and the Governor like making out. He [Cuomo] was in the front seat. And Senior Staffer #1 was like sitting on the console kissing him.”

The trooper added: “I think everyone kind of like assumes or thinks that there’s something going on between them.”

Earlier in her interview, the trooper also noted that “during COVID, Senior Staffer #1 and Senior Staffer #2 were basically living at the mansion.”

“They were there from basically March until that article about the trooper dating [redacted] came out,” she said.

The article in question appears to be an October 2020 Post expose that revealed a trooper who’d been one of Cuomo’s bodyguards, Dane Pfeiffer, was transferred to a post near the Canadian border after he began dating Cuomo daughter Cara Kennedy-Cuomo.

Following its publication, the female trooper testified, “So it was kind of like, I think they were worried that people were going to start documenting or noticing who’s coming in and out. If they’re not leaving, you know, they’re sleeping there.”

“Again, could they had had their own bedrooms? Of course. But no one knows what’s going on behind closed doors,” she said.

“I know that they would be up at the pool house in bikinis and bathing suits. I don’t really know anyone who stays at their boss’ house like that.”

Cuomo has been single since September 2019, when he and longtime girlfriend Sandra Lee, the TV cooking show star, announced they’d broken up after 14 years together.

Five former staffers later told The Post they believed Cuomo was involved with or pursued several female aides while living with Lee, 55, with one saying that his cheating on her “was an open secret.”

Last month, The Post exclusively reported that DeRosa had split from husband Matt Wing, 38, after five years of marriage, with one source saying, “They simply grew apart, and they have been living apart for a year.”

DeRosa and Wing confirmed their impending divorce in a joint statement that said, “Despite the fact that this chapter in our lives is ending, we are and always will be very close friends.”

During a heated July 17 interview that was also part of the probe James commissioned, Cuomo was asked if it ever happened that he and DeRosa — again identified as “Senior Staffer #1” — kissed each other on the lips, according to the official transcript.

“It may have,” Cuomo said.

“I don’t recall doing it, having a kiss on the lips with her.”

When pressed to explain why “it may have happened,” Cuomo said, “Mostly there are different events.”

“You know, I was at her wedding. So sometimes there’s different social functions. But I don’t remember that, no,” he said.

“Okay. But it may have happened?” asked lawyer Joon Kim, a former acting Manhattan US attorney.

“It may have happened,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo attended DeRosa and Wing’s August 27, 2016, nuptials at the swank Sagamore Resort on Lake George’s Green Island and made a toast congratulating the newlyweds, a source who attended told The Post.

The 515-page transcript of Cuomo’s grilling doesn’t show that he was asked about the alleged hotel room incident or about his staffers having stayed at the Executive Mansion amid the pandemic.

In a prepared statement, Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi denied that Cuomo had a “romantic relationship” with DeRosa and attacked James, who recently announced she’s running for governor.

“The fact that Tish James included these completely false bottom-of-the-barrel rumors in her selectively released, partially redacted transcripts says more about her character and motivations than anything else,” he said.

“Multiple people have testified under oath that the Governor did not have a romantic relationship with any staffer and the AG’s continued weaponization of this report for her own political gain is even more evidence of prosecutorial misconduct.”

In a statement, DeRosa also said: “As a young woman who has worked at the highest levels of government and politics, I’m used to other people making up and spreading rumors about me.”

“Am I Senior Staffer #1? I have no idea — you’d have to ask the AG’s office, but the things this person says is flat-out false,” DeRosa added.

“It’s beyond the pale for this trooper, who by her own admission I barely knew — who has already attempted to extort me for money — to make these accusations based on false rumors and for them to be printed in a newspaper. Not only is this ludicrous, it’s hurtful, and potentially actionable.”

DeRosa didn’t elaborate on the alleged extortion attempt but said the trooper was represented by lawyer Douglas Wigdor.

Lawyer Valdi Licul, a partner at Wigdor’s firm, said, “The investigative report and our client’s testimony speak for themselves.”

“It is unfortunate that Ms. DeRosa has chosen to retaliate against a victim of sexual harassment by falsely accusing her of extortion,” Licul said.

“We thank the media in advance for continuing to respect our client’s privacy at this time.”

No comments:

Post a Comment