The Real Deal New York

Is Rob Speyer “Developer 2” in Skelos case?

Description of unnamed developer in federal case against Senate leader matches a top RE player

May 05, 2015 03:04PM
By Rich Bockmann

From left: Rob Speyer, Preet Bharara and Dean Skelos

From left: Rob Speyer, Preet Bharara and Dean Skelos

UPDATED, 3:27 p.m., May 5: Tishman Speyer President Robert Speyer — the chairman of the Real Estate Board of New York, the city’s most powerful industry lobby — appears to be the unnamed “Developer 2” in the criminal complaint filed yesterday in the case against Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

The complaint, which was filed by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, seems to use the high-profile Tishman Speyer executive as an example of how Skelos and his son, who were both arrested Monday, allegedly leveraged their power for personal gain.

Neither “Developer 1,” which has already been publicly reported as Leonard Litwin’s Glenwood Management, nor “Developer 2” has been charged with any wrongdoing.

According to the complaint, Adam Skelos, 32, allegedly used his father’s powerful state position to win business for the East Coast Abstract Group, a Long Island-based title insurance agency where he serves as vice president.

The 43-page complaint points to a January 2011 email between Adam Skelos and his supervisor discussing an upcoming lunch meeting he had scheduled with “the president of a major commercial real estate developer based in New York, New York” that owned the Chrysler Building complex.

In 2011 Tishman Speyer, the largest family-owned firm in New York City, controlled both the land under the Chrysler Building and a 10 percent stake in the complex after the Abu Dhabi government bought a 90 percent stake in the complex in 2008 for $720 million.

The lunch meeting, page nine of the complaint says, was on Dean Skelos’ calendar as well and was scheduled to take place at Developer 2’s office on February 10.

The younger Skelos emailed his supervisor to say the developer “wants to start giving me his work,” according to the complaint. A month later, the managing director from Developer 2’s firm wrote to Adam Skelos asking him to generate a title report for a $250 million mortgage on the Chrysler Building complex.

The federal prosecutor’s office cited the back-and-forth as one of several examples of how the younger Skelos allegedly sought to monetize his father’s position.

“Adam Skelos, with the awareness and support of Dean Skelos, has relied heavily on his father and his father’s official position to generate sales income, including by making implicit and explicit references to Dean Skelos’s position and powers,” the complaint read.

It’s unclear what came of the title report request, if anything.

A spokesperson for Tishman said, “We have been contacted by the US Attorney’s office with regard to its investigation and are happy to continue to answer any questions they may have.”

In addition to acting as president and co-CEO of his family firm — a position he shares with his father Jerry — Speyer is also chairman of REBNY. REBNY did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

One of Glenwood’s top executives, senior vice president Charles Dorego, is reportedly helping the federal authorities build their case against the Skelos duo, Capital New York reported.

Adam and Dean Skelos, who deny any wrongdoing, were charged yesterday with six counts of extortion, fraud and soliciting bribes from an environmental technology company and what appears to be Glenwood Management. Litwin and Glenwood are also widely considered to be “Developer 1” in the corruption case against former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was charged in January with taking millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks. Bharara’s office declined to comment, but told The Real Deal that “Developer 2” in the Silver case is not necessarily Developer 2 in this case.

This post was updated to include a comment from Tishman Speyer.