Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer saved himself from a grand jury probe over his role in a political smear campaign when he resigned amid a separate sex scandal, prosecutors said on Friday.
Such a grand jury probe could have led to Spitzer's removal from office, but he had already resigned on March 12 after the New York Times reported he had patronised a $1,000-an-hour prostitute.
That ended the career of a former state attorney general who made his name by prosecuting malfeasance on Wall Street.
Before the prostitution scandal erupted, Albany District Attorney David Soares was investigating Spitzer's role in the release of potentially damaging information about the Democratic governor's chief political rival, Republican Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno.
In an interview with investigators, Spitzer denied direct involvement in publicizing Bruno's use of state aircraft for trips that mixed public business with campaign fundraising.
But Spitzer was later contradicted by a former top aide, Darren Dopp, who was given immunity in return for cooperating with the Soares investigation.
Under oath, Dopp said Spitzer was regularly briefed on Dopp's effort to compile information about Bruno's trips and that Spitzer ordered the release of the records to the media.
"Dopp stated that he walked ... to the governor's office and said to Spitzer, 'Boss, you're OK with the release of the plane records?' According to Dopp, the governor replied 'Yeah, do it'." the Soares report said.
"If Dopp's testimony is credited, then former Governor Spitzer's answers were not truthful. Accordingly, we intended to present these conflicting accounts to a grand jury," Soares said.
However, Soares said he halted the investigation because Spitzer resigned and he was no longer a public servant -- the basis of the potential grand jury probe.
Spitzer still faces possible federal charges stemming from the prostitution investigation.