ID Thief's Big Fear is Jurors Think He's Related to Andrew Cuomo
He had one request to the judge.
Guy Cuomo, a 54-year-old man who was recently convicted of identity theft and computer fraud and other charges in Albany, New York, worried that the jury in his federal trial would think he was related to former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Albany Times Union reported this week. His attorney raised this issue in court. Here's what happened before and after that.
First: No, Guy Cuomo is not related to the former governor, who won high praise (and an Emmy) for his televised press conferences at the outset of the COVID pandemic but was forced to resign after being accused of sexual misconduct in 2021. After five misdemeanor charges were dropped earlier this year, Andrew Cuomo does not face criminal charges.
Guy Cuomo, however, faced several criminal charges in court, including identity theft, computer fraud, misuse of Social Security numbers, and conspiracy. He was found guilty of all those charges after a five-day trial, but "not before his attorney at the time told the judge the defendant did not want jurors to mistakenly believe the Maryland man was related to Andrew M. Cuomo," the Times Union reported.
According to federal prosecutors, between December 2015 and April 2018, an identity theft ring—including Guy Cuomo—sold place-of-employment information from at least 12,000 people from 40 states to debt collectors for $90 each. The ring had created unemployment insurance accounts in the New York state unemployment insurance system, then used VPNs to disguise the locations of their computers.
But before trial, one of the accused identity thief's major worries was that the jury would mistake him for a member of Andrew Cuomo's family, the Times Union reported.
The Times Union reported that the issue was raised during a Nov. 21 trial conference inside the chambers of Senior U.S. Judge Thomas McAvoy. Guy Cuomo's attorney, Justin de Armas, said his client "wanted the court to instruct the jury that he was not related to Andrew Cuomo."
Citing the "notoriety of the former governor and some of the negative implications of that," the federal prosecutor told the judge he had no objection. The judge said he could tell the jury the two men just happened to have the same name.
"That would make Guy happy," said de Armas. "He wanted it said, but I told him not to worry about it and that he shouldn't be concerned about it. He won't have any complaint about it."
But there's no indication the judge did give that instruction, the Times Union said.
On Friday, Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said: "That's the dumbest thing I ever heard, but not the dumbest thing I've ever read in the Times Union." (For those of you who aren't in the New York area or weren't the most attentive U.S. history students, Albany is the capital of New York, and as a state-capital news outlet, the Times Union is known for reporting attentively on the governor—every governor.)
Last Thursday, Guy Cuomo was sentenced by a different judge. At that sentencing hearing, he delivered a "rapid-moving and rambling speech," complaining about lawyers, prosecutors, his former co-defendants, and claiming his actions hadn't caused anyone financial harm.
"This is a violation of the human order," the judge told Cuomo. "I don't think that that scar goes away. … You can continue to say that you're innocent. A jury found you guilty."
She sentenced Guy Cuomo to four years in federal prison. Andrew Cuomo's name didn't come up.