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Myerson Trial: What the Housekeeper Heard

November 2, 1988

NEW YORK (AP) _ Bess Myerson’s lover, upset about his bitter divorce, once asked the former Miss America what she could do about his alimony payments, his former housekeeper testified at their conspiracy trial.

Carl ″Andy″ Capasso and Miss Myerson were discussing the divorce at Capasso’s Long Island estate in 1983 when Capasso threw papers on a table ″and said ‘Isn’t there something you can do about this?’ or ’Is there something you can do about this?‴ Shirley Harrod testified Tuesday.

Mrs. Harrod said she did not hear Myerson’s reply.However, she said that later that summer, Miss Myerson told her Capasso’s payments had been reduced and the couple celebrated.

Miss Myerson, 64, once New York’s commissioner of cultural affairs, is charged with giving a city job to the 39-year-old daughter of former state Supreme Court Justice Hortense Gabel, who was handling Capasso’s divorce, to influence her decisions.

The daughter, Sukhreet Gabel, was given a $19,000-a-year-job by Miss Myerson in August 1983. Capasso’s support payments were reduced in September.

Capasso, 43, Miss Myerson and Mrs. Gabel, 75, are all on trial for conspiracy and bribe-related charges.

During her testimony Tuesday, Mrs. Harrod sparked laughter numerous times as she related how Miss Myerson sought to conceal where she was sleeping at Capasso’s Westhampton Beach estate.

″She left her case and clothes in the room (another house guest) was in, and then came and took them out and she left the bed as if she had slept there,″ the prosecution witness testified.

″Thereafter, where did Miss Myerson stay in the house at Westhampton?″ asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Stuart Abrams.

″In the master bedroom,″ said the housekeeper, who was dismissed in February 1984.

Laughter erupted again when Mrs. Harrod was being questioned by Capasso’s lawyer, Jay Goldberg, who kept referring to her being fired.

″You sure like that word, don’t you?″ joked the witness.

When she admitted giving information about her former boss to federal investigators and Capasso’s ex-wife, Goldberg asked Mrs. Harrod if she felt a lack of loyalty ″because you were ...″

″Fired?″ Mrs. Harrod finished the sentence.

She denied bearing ill will toward Capasso.

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