Skelos, son convicted of bribery and extortion
A former New York state Senate leader and his son were convicted on Tuesday of extortion, wire fraud and bribery charges that they pressured businesses to give the son no-show jobs or else risk losing the powerful Republican's political support.
A jury in federal court in Manhattan deliberated over the course of four days before reaching the verdict at the trial of Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, in a case that cast a harsh light on corruption in Albany.
Prosecutors had told jurors that the father and son were "partners in crime" who showed such blatant disregard for conflicts of interest that they broke the law. They accused the pair of extorting roughly $300,000 in payments from wealthy business executives who were dependent on the Long Island senator's backing on legislation benefiting their financial interests.
The companies felt "constant pressure from Dean Skelos — the fear he would punish them by using his official power if they didn't pay up," Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas McKay said in closing arguments. "They were the targets of the Skelos family shakedown."
The evidence included a wiretap recording of a phone call in 2014 in which Skelos boasted to his son that in his position as Senate leader he would "control everything," including which bills would come to the floor for a vote.
"Everybody's going to know who calls the shots, Adam," he said. "Believe me."
The defense sought to portray the elder Skelos as a doting father who was merely trying to look out for a son struggling to find employment and pay for a $675,000 home. His lawyers argued there was no evidence that the ex-senator took any official action for the businessmen.
Skelos, 70, testified in his own defense, claiming there was never a quid-pro-quo expected when he reached out on behalf of Adam.
"I didn't see a problem with it," he said. "I asked a lot of people to help my son."