UPDATED, 3:45 p.m., Dec. 11: Former State Senate majority leader Dean Skelos and his son Adam Skelos were found guilty of corruption charges Friday, in a case which prominently featured the real estate industry.
The Skeloses were charged with using the father’s political clout to pressure, among others, Leonard Litwin’s Glenwood Management into providing the son with lucrative contracts and payments.
The Skeloses were indicted by a federal grand jury earlier this year on charges including extortion, wire fraud, conspiracy and bribe solicitation. Dean Skelos resigned from his senate leadership position in May.
Jurors deliberated for eight hours Thursday and Firday before finding the pair guilty on eight felony charges, the New York Post reported. They each face up to 130 years in prison.
Upon conviction, the 67-year-old Skelos was automatically stripped of his long-time job as a Republican state senator representing Nassau County. During the four-week trial the elder Skelos repeatedly predicted that he and his son would be acquitted.
Prosecutors presented as evidence recordings of dozens of FBI phone taps in which the two Skeloses schemed and apparently trash-talked Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“He’s such a p—y!” Adam, referring to the Democratic governor, told his father during a December 2014 phone call, according to the Post.
“He’s full of s–t,” Dean replied.
During the trial Charles Dorego, chief lobbyist for Glenwood, testified that Dean had repeatedly “badgered” him about “helping” Adam, who secured a $10,000-a-month job at a pollution-control company and a $20,000 referral fee for work he never actually performed.
Dorego told jurors that he did favors for the Skeloses out of fear that the father would take retribution on Glenwood.
“[Dean] could do that if he wanted to and if he was angry enough, he might do it,” Dorego said, according to the Post. “I had seen him angry and I had seen him make threats.”
(Video by Alistair Gardiner)
The conviction was the second major corruption decision in a fortnight. Sheldon Silver, the longtime Assembly speaker, was convicted Nov. 30 on seven counts of honest services fraud, extortion and money laundering. His case, too, involved figures from the real estate industry.
United States Attorney Preet Bharara, who prosecuted both cases, has now won convictions against 11 lawmakers in the past six years.
During both the Silver and Skelos cases, there was no dispute that money was trading hands, yet prosecutors fell short of supplying solid proof of a quid-pro-quo.
“So that leaves you with one key question, which is this: Why did Adam Skelos get these payments?,” prosecutor Rahul Mukhi asked jurors at the end of the Skelos case, according to the New York Times.
“The evidence you’ve heard over the last few weeks establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that Senator Skelos got these payments for his son through his official powers, his official powers to make or break the companies that paid his son,” Mukhi continued.
After the verdict was given, the Twitter account for Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, put out the following: “How many prosecutions will it take before Albany gives the people of New York the honest government they deserve?” — Hiten Samtani and Rich Bockmann