State Ethics Commission Exonerates Former Cuomo Appointee
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A New York state ethics panel said it found no evidence to back a woman's claims that a former Cuomo administration appointee sexually harassed and assaulted her after finding her a place to live and helping her land a job with the state.
The Joint Commission on Public Ethics said it reviewed hundreds of records while investigating Lisa Marie Cater's allegations stemming from her personal relationship with William "Sam" Hoyt starting in late 2015.
In a letter sent last Thursday to Mark Glaser, Hoyt's Albany attorney, JCOPE said it found no evidence that Hoyt harassed or assaulted her. The panel also said it found no evidence that Hoyt had threatened Cater's employment at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Buffalo, as she had claimed, or that he violated the state's public officers law.
"The Commission does not find Ms. Cater or any of her claims to be credible," JCOPE's letter said. "Indeed, Ms. Cater was, more often than not, evasive and unresponsive, initially refusing to meet with and then refusing to answer many questions or provide additional documents to the Commission."
Hoyt, a former state assemblyman from Buffalo, was appointed a regional president for Empire State Development by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2011. He resigned in October 2017, a day before Cater's sexual harassment claims emerged.
After resigning, Hoyt said he had a relationship with Cater that he described as short-term and consensual. He helped her find housing and assisted her effort to get a DMV job before their relationship soured in 2016. Later, he agreed to pay her $50,000 in exchange for Cater's silence on the relationship.
The Governor's Office of Employee Relations opened an investigation after Cater filed a complaint against Hoyt in October 2016. The state Inspector General's Office also investigated before forwarding the probe to JCOPE.
"As far the state is concerned, this is done," Glaser said Monday.
Cater has named Hoyt in a lawsuit she filed last fall in federal court in Manhattan. In the lawsuit, she claims Hoyt assaulted her and that the governor knew of the abuse but did nothing to stop it. Cuomo's office denied the allegation.
Paul Liggieri, the attorney representing Cater in the federal lawsuit, wasn't available to comment on JCOPE's findings.