NEW YORK – An aide to New York Gov. David Paterson surrendered Thursday to New York City authorities on assault charges stemming from a 2009 domestic violence case that touched off an evidence-tampering investigation in Albany.
David Johnson turned himself in to investigators with the Bronx district attorney's office on misdemeanor assault charges and was awaiting arraignment.
Paterson's involvement in the case — he made a phone call to the accuser, who soon dropped her allegations — caused him serious political damage, even though investigators found no evidence of witness tampering.
Buffeted by other ethics questions about World Series tickets, the Democratic governor soon dropped plans to run for a full term this fall, while saying he intended to finish the year in office.
The confrontation occurred on Halloween, with Johnson and his then-girlfriend, Sherr-una Booker. Angry over how she was dressed, she said he choked her, threw her against a dresser and ripped her Halloween costume. The case was initially handled in Family Court and dropped without prejudice because Booker did not appear for a hearing.
Johnson's attorney did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
The attorney general's office investigated whether intervention by Paterson and the state troopers in the days after the confrontation caused Booker to call off the case.
But a report by Retired Judge Judith Kaye who was put in charge of the review found no criminal activity by anyone — except maybe Johnson.
On Halloween, Booker said, Johnson tried to stop her from calling the police but eventually left the scene. She called 911 three times, at one point saying she was scared Johnson would come back to "finish the job."
But police who responded saw no visible injuries and classified the confrontation as harassment, a violation. After the officers left, she went to a hospital, where she was treated and met with a staff social worker to discuss domestic violence resources.
No arrest was made, but officers did a follow-up visit. Johnson did not return to the home.
Meanwhile, Booker sought a court order requiring Johnson to stay away and took the case to Family Court. She told court officials that in the days after the altercation, "the state troopers kept calling and harassing me to drop the charges."
But she testified in the investigation that she decided not to continue to pursue the Family Court matter because, among other reasons, Johnson had not contacted her since the confrontation and she no longer felt a threat.
Still, the system did her no favors. Kaye's report noted gaps in the legal system that made it difficult for Booker, who was without a lawyer at the time, to file a restraining order. She got no help from officers unclear about how it should be done. A clerical error by police later wrongly classified the incident as "unfounded."
Paterson is still being investigated for ethics laws violations on free Yankees tickets for the 2009 World Series and whether he lied about his intention to pay for them. One of the tickets went to Johnson, officials said.