Jurors in the political corruption trial of former Senate Republican Majority Leader Sen. Dean Skelos of Nassau County and his son Adam have found the pair guilty of bribery, extortion and conspiracy charges in federal court in Manhattan.
The verdict on the second day of deliberations capped an extraordinary two-week period in which two of the state’s most powerful leaders at the start of 2015 — Skelos and former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver — ended their political careers in disgrace at the hands of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
“The swift convictions of Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos beg an important question — how many prosecutions will it take before Albany gives the people of New York the honest government they deserve?” Bharara said in a statement after the verdict was announced.
Skelos family members, including Dean’s wife, Gail, were in tears after the verdict.
The jury’s forewoman, Cindy Nehlsen, said the government “gave us a great timeline.”
“We gave them a fair trial,” Nehlsen said.
The Skeloses were found guilty of using the senator’s power as majority leader to pressure three companies to give jobs, fees and benefits worth $300,000 to Adam Skelos, doing favors in Albany for the companies in return, and intervening with Nassau County to help one of the companies on a contract.
Dean Skelos, 67, of Rockville Centre, automatically loses his Senate seat as a result of conviction of a felony, ending a 30-year Senate career. Both he and his son, 33, also of Rockville Centre, face a theoretical maximum sentence of up to 130 years in prison, although a much shorter sentence is likely.
The government charged the two with shaking down three companies – developer Glenwood Management of New Hyde Park, Roslyn malpractice firm Physicians Reciprocal Insurers, and AbTech Industries, the Glenwood-affiliated Arizona firm that got a $10 million stormwater treatment contract with Nassau.
During the trial beginning Nov. 16, prosecutors claimed Dean Skelos helped Glenwood and Physicians’ Reciprocal with critical real estate tax breaks and malpractice bills, respectively, and that the Skeloses threatened to use political influence to submarine AbTech’s Nassau contract if it didn’t pay Adam more.
Four witnesses from the firms, all testifying with immunity, described pressure from the two. Prosecutors also put in wiretapped calls and emails between the Skeloses and with others -- including Nassau County executive Ed Mangano -- and evidence about Adam Skelos’ bad behavior, wielding his father’s power, refusing to show up for one job and threatening a supervisor.
The defense did not dispute that the senator tried repeatedly to help his son -- who made six-figure annual incomes throughout the alleged conspiracy -- but argued that the aid was normal assistance for a father to give a son, and never intersected with his Senate work.
There was no testimony that Dean Skelos ever explicitly made threats or promises, or that his positions on real estate and malpractice legislation departed from long-established positions. But prosecutors argued that circumstantial evidence showed there were implicit threats and understandings.