Gov. nominates new police superintendent

Harry Corbitt receives nomination from Paterson
March 24, 2008 12:31:30 PM PDT
Gov. David Paterson announces that he is nominating Harry Corbitt to be the superintendent of state police, replacing Preston Felton. Corbitt, who retired as a colonel from the state police in 2004, is a former deputy superintendent of internal affairs for the agency. In a 26-year career, he also served as a trooper in central New York and was in charge of the Basic School at the State Police Academy. He also served as deputy superintendent for employee relations.

Felton became entangled in the first scandal to wrack the Spitzer administration when two executive aides were accused of misusing state police records to embarrass Senate Republican leader Joseph Bruno. Felton was criticized for having the state police recreate records to provide information about Bruno's use of state aircraft on trips that involved GOP fundraisers.

Shortly after Paterson became governor following's Spitzer's March 12 resignation amid a prostitution scandal, the 49-year-old Felton offered his resignation. Paterson said the departure was not related to the travel records scandal.

That 2007 case is under investigation by the state Public Integrity Commission.

Felton was the first black to head the force, if only in an acting capacity, withdrawing his own retirement papers while a national search was done to replace Wayne Bennett, who retired.

When the Spitzer administration appeared ready to consider nominating Felton, the scandal involving Bruno's use of state aircraft complicated possible confirmation by the Senate, which is led by Bruno.

If Corbitt is confirmed by the Senate, he will be the state's first black state police superintendent. His annual salary would be $136,000.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, concluded in July that Felton created the travel records for public disclosure at the request of the governor's office, deviating from standard procedures and disregarding security considerations.

Felton has said he had no idea he was part of a political scheme.

"He will be remembered for his tremendous willingness to try to provide on the job safety for troopers," Paterson said.

Corbitt, who retired before Spitzer even took office, said he didn't have any intimate knowledge about Felton's involvement in the scandal.

"I only know what I read in the papers," Corbitt said. "I do know that whenever politics and police mix, it's a bad mixture."