Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Sam Hoyt

Sam Hoyt, former regional president for Empire State Development, stepped down from his position on Monday, October 30. No reason was cited at the time but it was revealed on October 31 that Hoyt, who had served as the regional president and public face of ESD for six years, left his job in the midst of a sexual harassment investigation. Barry Covert spoke to WGRZ about the nondisclosure agreement signed by the woman in question and about whether ongoing litigation is likely. The full story is available on the WGRZ website and by watching the video below.

Allegations of inappropriate relationship

Hoyt represented part of Buffalo and Grand Island in the State Assembly from 1992 to 2011. According to WGRZ, in 2008 the Assembly Ethics Committee found that Hoyt had an inappropriate relationship with an intern. The committee then banned Hoyt from participating in Assembly internship or student mentoring programs. WGRZ reports that, on October 31, Governor Cuomo’s office released a statement saying that Hoyt also left ESD due to a sexual harassment investigation.


In a statement WGRZ received from Terry Connors, Hoyt’s attorney, Hoyt explains that he and the woman in question agreed to a settlement. The woman told WGRZ that, as part of that settlement, she signed a nondisclosure agreement. When asked how that nondisclosure agreement could impact the situation, Mr. Covert explained, “Nondisclosure agreements, which can be in a lot of different forms, are really meant to end it. Here, we’re going to give you some level of compensation, whether it’s money, whether it’s a job, whether whatever the consideration is, and you are not going to discuss any of this, including the initial allegations or how we settled it.”

Mr. Covert went on to say that Hoyt “appears to have left his state job and, as far as we know, his benefits have all been paid out, so I don’t think the state is going to pick up on any investigation. So, I really don’t know that there’s going to be any ongoing problem or litigation between the two of them.”

Traditionally, Mr. Covert explained to WGRZ, if someone signs a nondisclosure agreement then they do not talk about the settlement or any of the information that led to the settlement.

About Barry N. Covert

Mr. Covert is a senior partner in Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria’s Criminal Defense Trials and Appeals Practice Area. He is known for his aggressive representation of clients in the areas of New York State and federal criminal trials and appeals; driving while intoxicated; constitutional law, including First Amendment, civil rights actions, and federal False Claims Act; defending against allegations of scientific misconduct and fraud, research misconduct and fraud, plagiarism, and fabrication of evidence; and professional licensing defense. Mr. Covert frequently provides legal analysis for WGRZ and other media outlets.