David Paterson's Other Headache: Ex-Aide Takes 5th in Probes

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It's triple witching hour for budget-crunch time, but the investigation that the governor wants everyone to forget popped back onto the public radar this morning. The Times reports that David Paterson's former top aide has taken the Fifth Amendment in two separate inquiries. Citing an unnamed "person with knowledge of his actions," the Times's Serge Kovaleski says that David Johnson has balked at answering questions about the Halloween night fight between Johnson and his girlfriend that led, in a circuitous route, to Paterson's decision not to run for election this year. Johnson also clammed up when summoned before the state Commission on Public Integrity in its investigation of how Paterson obtained free tickets for the World Series last year.

The integrity commission issued a report in March that found the governor had told several whoppers in his account of how he scored the ducats. Johnson ducked subpoenas for weeks before apparently deciding he had nothing he wanted to say. The domestic violence probe is being conducted by former chief state judge Judith Kaye, who was appointed special prosecutor after the probe became too hot to handle for state attorney general and now-gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo. Kaye's only comment is that she's "just plugging ahead," Kovaleski writes.

Johnson's lawyer, Oscar Michelen, also declined comment on his client's status. But, as the Times notes, he had plenty to say about the usefulness of invoking the constitutional privilege on his chatty Web site, "Courtroom Strategy."

I recently represented a well-known R & B singer involved in an incident at a Louis Vuitton store. The Manhattan DA had sought him for questioning and under our advice, he refused to answer any questions. The result - he was never arrested, never called to testify and never exposed to prosecution. A notorious judge in Suffolk County, NY used to have a huge stuffed fish behind his desk in his chambers. The plaque underneath read "I'd be OK if I had just kept my big mouth shut." An important reminder.

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