Former New York state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, are set to be sentenced Thursday
Skelos arrives at court May 12, 2016, to await sentencing
Former New York Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos has been sentenced to five years in prison on charges he used his office to extort money and a job for his son.
He’s the second New York powerbroker to be sentenced for corruption this month.
His son, Adam, was later sentenced to six and a half years in prison. It comes a week after former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver got a 12-year term in another bribery case.
A jury convicted the father and son last year on extortion and other charges. They were accused of using the Long Island Republican’s position to pressure businesses to provide the son with roughly $300,000 through consulting work and a no-show job.
During the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood had interrupted attorney G. Robert Gage as he spoke on behalf of the Long Island Republican to ask why the father did not reach out to his many friends to help find his son a job rather than use his position to extort companies.
“I wish I could answer that question,” Gage said. “I certainly wish it had not happened.”
Dean Skelos told the judge Thursday that the convictions had destroyed his reputation. He asked that she be lenient to his 33-year-old son.
“It is heartbreaking to stand before you,” the elder Skelos told the judge. “Somewhere along the way my judgment became clouded.”
A government filing requested a stiffer sentence near or within advisory guidelines of roughly 12 to 15 years for Dean Skelos and 10 to 12 years for Adam.
The government had accused the elder Skelos of strong-arming three companies with a stake in state legislation—a major real estate developer, an environmental technology company and a medical malpractice insurer—into giving his son about $300,000 through consulting work, a no-show job and a payment of $20,000. The scheme unraveled when investigators began recording phone calls between the father and son.
On one tape, jurors heard Adam Skelos snapping at a supervisor on the no-show job and saying, “Guys like you aren’t fit to shine my shoes.” In another, the senator coached his son about the need for discretion amid the state capital’s ongoing corruption scandal, saying, “Right now we’re in dangerous times, Adam.”
Defense attorneys argued at trial that the tapes and other evidence showed only that Dean Skelos, 68, was a devoted father looking out for his son and that overzealous prosecutors were overreaching. The defense has taken a similar position in court papers seeking probation instead of prison time for both defendants.
Dean Skelos’ conviction “represents a complete aberration in an otherwise extraordinary and honorable record of service,” the papers say. “Tragically, the conduct which led to his conviction was fundamentally driven by Dean’s love and concern for his only son … a love that is the hallmark of his family life.”
The father and son “have fed the public’s worst fears and suspicions about their government: that our elected officials are not looking out for the public good, but instead looking out only for ways to turn the immense power entrusted in them into personal profit,” prosecutors wrote. “At a time when the public’s trust in their government is at an all-time low, Dean and Adam Skelos, through their conduct and their words, have managed to lower the bar even further.”
Skelos and Silver were among a group dubbed the “three men in a room” in Albany, a nod to the long-standing practice of legislative leaders and the governor negotiating key bills behind closed doors. They were the highest-ranking of the more than 30 lawmakers who have left office facing criminal charges or allegations of ethical misconduct since 2000.
Crain’s New York Business contributed to this report.