State Police Boss to Retire in Wake of Paterson Scandal

Another one bites the dust

By Melissa Russo and Hasani Gittens
|  Friday, Mar 12, 2010  |  Updated 1:49 PM EDT
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An exclusive look inside the the woman at the center of Governor Paterson's scandal

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The superintendent of the New York State Police is retiring effective Wednesday, NBCNewYork has learned.

Harry Corbitt is scheduled this evening to appear on the Capital Tonight, a show  broadcast in Albany , and explain his reasons for retirement, according to a state police spokesman.

The superintendent is just one of the players near the center of an obstruction of justice scandal which has already derailed Governor Paterson's election campaign and caused the resignation of his top criminal justice cabinet member.

When questioned about Corbitt's abrupt retirement, Paterson was typically nonchalant.

"I think that we'll move forward now and look for the best person to lead the state police," said the Governor. "He worked very hard."

Denise O'Donnell, the former State Commissioner of Criminal Justice Services and Assistant Secretary to the Governor for Criminal Justice, resigned Thursday over the burgeoning scandal, saying conduct by the state police was "distressing" for an administration that has devoted itself to reducing domestic violence.

When O'Donnell quit she said Superintendent Corbitt had assured her his agency was not involved in a confrontation involving Paterson's aide David Johnson and a woman who accused him of domestic abuse.

It was later revealed that the victim told a judge that state troopers had approached her and told her not to file an order of protection.

Corbitt denies misleading O'Donnell. He said that he told her state police weren't involved in the investigation, not that they hadn't contacted the woman.

Paterson Tuesday night also bobbed and weaved when asked aboutrecent reports and calls for his step down, but al.

"I don't think that I've been accused of anything," said Paterson. "I really never shied away from the media before and would love to answer these questions but there is an investigation that the Attorney General is conducting. I don't think they would want me to talk about the facts in public because that would be like testifying."

On Monday the New York Times reported that Gov. David Paterson personally directed two state employees to contact the woman who told police she was assaulted by Johnson.

A Paterson administration official speaking on the condition of anonymity confirmed that the two employees were directed by Paterson to contact the woman, but denied that the state employees sought to persuade the woman to drop her charge or change her story.

The administration official said one of the workers, press officer Marissa Shorenstein, was directed by Paterson directly to contact the woman, Sherruna Booker, but only to seek Booker's public statement. The official who spoke wasn't authorized to speak for Paterson.

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