Dean Skelos

Curran Ad Links Martins to Skelos

The Nassau County executive race is heating up, as evidenced by the announcement earlier today that former Gov. George Pataki has endorsed the Republican candidate, former Sen. Jack Martins.

But Pataki isn’t the ex-Republican elected official that Martins’ Democratic opponent, Nassau County Legislator Laura Curran, wants voters to think of in connection with the former senator.

She released a new TV ad today that continues her ongoing effort to link Martins with disgraced former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who lost his job in a federal corruption scandal – though his conviction was recently overturned, thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court decision that significantly narrowed the definition of an “official act” in connection with public corruption.

The ad highlights what Curran deemed the “cozy” relationship between Martins and his former GOP conference leader, noting that the FBI “caught Jack Martins plotting political strategy” with Skelos on a wiretap. Also, the ad notes Martins initially opposed efforts to remove Skelos from office even after his arrest.

“When you’re paying for those sweetheart deals, for those patronage positions, that’s a tax, it’s a corruption tax,” Curran says. “That’s completely unacceptable. I’m in this race to give Nassau County the fresh start that it deserves.”

Ethics has been a big focus in this race due to the fact that the incumbent, Republican Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, is not seeking re-election due to fact that he’s battling his own corruption charges.
He has pleaded not guilty, and is facing trial in January 2018.

“When Jack Martins continued to support Dean Skelos after his arrest on federal corruption charges he made it clear: he cares about politics more than he cares about ending the culture of corruption in Nassau County,” Curran said in a press release announcing the new ad.

“Nassau taxpayers don’t need another typical machine politician like Jack Martins who is going to tell them one thing and do another. Taxpayers are crying out for change, and Jack only offers more of the same.”

The ad is called “Restore.” Curran’s campaign has not said where it is running, or for how long, nor did it provide any information on the size of the buy.

Skelos, Awaiting Appeal, Dips Into Campaign For Legal Bills

Ex-Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos dipped into his campaign account this year to pay for his legal bills as he awaits word of whether his conviction on corruption charges will stand.

Records released on Friday show Skelos spent $50,000 from his account to pay Gage Spencer & Fleming, a white-collar law firm.

Despite not fundraising while he awaits word of his legal status, Skelos still has $843,301 in cash on hand.

Skelos stepped down as majority leader in 2015 after he was accused of using his office to aid the business interests of his son, Adam.

Both were convicted on felony corruption charges, forcing the elder Skelos out of office.

On Thursday, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s corruption conviction was overturned, buoying the chances that Skelos may see his reversed as well.

Will Skelos Receive A Similar Reprieve?

From the Morning Memo:

Legal experts are bullish on the prospect that ex-Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos’s corruption conviction will be tossed, giving him a similar reprieve to that of his former colleague, Sheldon Silver.

Silver, the former longtime Assembly speaker, had his conviction reversed by a federal appeals court on Thursday.

Like Skelos, Silver argued his conviction based on instructions to the jury, did not comport with the Supreme Court ruling in favor of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Albany Law School Professor Vin Bonventre noted in an interview with Spectrum News the judge in Skelos’s case even took stock of those jury instructions.

“She herself said there’s a substantial question whether my instructions to the jury were wrong,” Bonventre said. “She herself understood the instructions she gave to the jury were probably wrong and the convictions of Dean Skelos and his son might be overturned just like they were in the Sheldon Silver case.”

Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim, who inherited the office from Preet Bharara after his dismissal in March, said in a statement Thursday Silver will likely face a retrial.

Skelos Sentenced To 5 Years Following Corruption Conviction

Dean Skelos, the Republican former majority leader of the state Senate who was convicted alongside his son in December of fraud and extortion, was sentenced on Thursday to five years in federal prison.

He also received a $500,000 fine, the maximum that could be imposed.

Adam Skelos received 6-1/2 years in prison for his role in the case.

The sentencing was the second solidification this month of a former legislative leader’s fall from grace after ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was given 12 years in prison for his role in a separate corruption case involving the masking of bribes as legal referrals.

Skelos, 68, was charged last year of aiding Adam’s business interests through official actions, personally intervening for a contract that awarded $12 million to AbTech, a storm water treatment company that was doing business with governments in New York.

Both men had asked U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood for leniency for each other, with the elder Skelos pointing to his son caring for his own children, both of whom have autism.

But in the end, Wood insisted she wanted the sentence to deter future officials from committing corrupt acts.

The case included the embarrassing reveal of wiretapped phone calls featuring Skelos and his son conducting unvarnished ruminations on a number of issues like hydrofracking and insults directed at Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The sentencing comes as federal investigators have launched inquiries into other facets of state government, including the Buffalo Billion economic development program, a key program for Gov. Andrew Cuomo. His former top aide, Joe Percoco, is also under the scrutiny of investigators, as is a Todd Howe, a lobbyist with ties to Cuomo.

In a statement, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whose office has aggressively pursued public corruption cases, noted the extraordinary moment in New York politics.

At the same time, Bharara took a veiled swipe at Cuomo’s own efforts to combat corruption in state government through the now-defunct Moreland Commission, whose shutdown his office investigated, but concluded there was no wrongdoing.

“The nearly simultaneous convictions of Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos, whose corruption crimes were laid bare during fair and public trials, have no precedent. And while Silver and Skelos deserve their prison sentences, the people of New York deserve better,” he said. “These cases show – and history teaches – that the most effective corruption investigations are those that are truly independent and not in danger of either interference or premature shutdown.”

First elected to the Senate from the Assembly in 1984, Skelos represented a western Long Island Senate district in Nassau County. As a deputy to Majority Leader Joe Bruno, Skelos was ruffled Democrats for an often partisan bent in leading the chamber’s floor operations.

Skelos became leader of the Senate Republicans in June 2008, succeeding Bruno, who stepped down amid a federal investigation into his consulting work (Bruno was later convicted, but the charge was overturned and he was acquitted in a second trial).

Republicans were soon forced into the minority following the general election. Under Skelos, the GOP conference sought to engineer a leadership coup with the aid of two breakaway Democratic lawmakers, Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserrate. The coup sent the chamber into chaos and froze any action there for a month.

When Republicans gained the majority in 2010, Skelos became the majority leader in full. He wound up working collaboratively with Cuomo, a Democrat elected with a mandate in part to get the state’s fiscal house in order as well as clean up corruption.

With Cuomo, Skelos allowed votes on a host of long-sought Democratic measures ranging from the legalization of same-sex marriage to a sweeping gun control law in 2013 that was passed in the wake of a school shooting in Connecticut.

Skelos’s approach to deal making with Cuomo, as well as a five-member bloc of Democrats in the Independent Democratic Conference, angered grassroots conservative voters in New York, who were especially upset over the gun control legislation passing the chamber.

Last year, Skelos sought to hang on to the majority leader post after a criminal complaint was filed against him and his son for conspiring to aid AbTech’s pursuit of contracts for storm water projects.

In the end, Skelos resigned from the majority leader’s post, with an election for his replacement exposing a rift within the conference along upstate-downstate lines. The leadership mantle ultimately fell to yet another Long Islander, John Flanagan of Suffolk County.

Skelos became the second member of the GOP conference to lose his seat late last year when he was convicted all counts of corruption, a development that came just two weeks after the Silver verdict.

His Nassau County Senate district, which had long been trending away from Republican voters, was flipped last month in a special election to Democrat Todd Kaminsky.

Skelos Sentencing Pushed Back

The sentencing for former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son Adam Skelos has been pushed back from April 13 to April 25, according to documents filed on Friday in federal court.

U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood moved the sentencing back by two weeks, a move that comes as both men face sentencing for their dual convictions in December.

The elder Skelos was found guilty of using his office’s powers to aid the business interests of his son.

Both Dean and Adam Skelos are expected to appeal the December guilty verdict, which resulted in the Nassau County Republican’s ejection from the Senate.

The sentencing of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was also scheduled for April 13, making for what would have been the unusual sight of both former legislative leaders being sentenced on the same day in separate corruption cases in the same federal courthouse.

Silver was found guilty in November of last year of receiving bribes and kickbacks that had been masked as legal referrals.

Also on Friday, former aides to Skelos pleaded Wood to be lenient when sentencing later next month in letters filed with the court, including Senate spokeswoman Kelly Cummings, former Skelos-aide-turned Cuomo budget director Robert Mujica and Senate counsel David Lewis. Only one sitting lawmaker wrote in on Skelos’s behalf: Brooklyn Sen. Simcha Felder, a Democrat who conferences with the Senate GOP.

S.D.N.Y. 15-cr-00317 dckt 000169_000 filed 2016-03-25 by Nick Reisman

Skelos Pension To Top $95K

The pension for former Senate Majority Dean Skelos will top $95,000 a year, according to a final pension calculation from the state comptroller’s office.

Skelos was forced from office in December after he and his son were found guilty of federal felony corruption charges.

The comptroller’s office on Wednesday said the elder Skelos’s gross monthly pension will be $7,985.96, giving him an annual pension of $95,843.52.

Skelos formally filed for retirement a week after his conviction, Dec. 22. His date of retirement was effective Jan. 2.

Skelos final pension comes after former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is due to receive about $79,000 a year. Silver in November was convicted on fraud and bribery charges and also forced to leave office as a result.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whose office prosecuted both cases, has in the past sought to claw back some of the pension benefits of public officials convicted of corruption.

State lawmakers are at odds over a constitutional amendment that would strip public officials convicted of felony corruption of their pensions.

The GOP-led Senate approved an agreed-upon version of the legislation last March, but Assembly Democrats raised concerns over whether the language was too broad. The Assembly, over GOP objections, later approved a separate constitutional amendment.

Skelos Pension Could Exceed $95K

The final annual pension calculation of former Sen. Dean Skelos could exceed $95,000, according to the fiscal watchdogs at the Empire Center for Public Policy.

The former majority leader was automatically removed from office on Friday following a jury finding him guilty on all eight counts of corruption stemming from his use of power to help his son’s business interests at a no-show job.

Skelos will be able to draw a pension that began with his membership date in the system of June 29, 1973 — two days before the more lucrative Tier I closed. He has 41 total years of service credit, according to the state comptroller’s office.

Skelos was first elected to the Assembly in 1980, spent two years of out of office and was elected to the Senate in 1984.

His former counterpart in the Assembly, ex-Speaker Sheldon Silver, put in his retirement papers a day after he was found guilty on all federal corruption charges as well.

In the past, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has sought to claw back the pensions of those convicted of public corruption.

A constitutional amendment designed to block public officials convicted of corruption of receiving a pension has stalled in the Legislature.

Skelos And Son Guilty On All Counts

Dean Skelos and his son Adam on Friday were found guilty on all eight counts each of corruption in a case stemming from the former majority leader of the state Senate Majority Leader arranging for a no-show job for his son.

The conviction means Skelos is automatically removed from the state Senate. He resigned his leadership post in May after he was arrested along with his son on corruption charges.

Skelos’s conviction is the second this month of a former state legislative leader for corruption.

Last week, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was ousted from office after he too was convicted on all counts of corruption.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who prosecuted both cases, tweeted his reaction to the verdict:

“How many prosecutions will it take before Albany gives the people of New York the honest government they deserve?”

The conviction of Skelos and son led to good-government groups once again calling for ethics reforms in Albany.

“Inaction speaks louder than words,” said NYPIRG Legislative Director Blair Horner in a statement. “Failure by Governor Cuomo to convene a special session on ethics and inaction by the legislature can only be understood as a defense of Albany’s status quo.”

Neither Skelos nor his son took the stand in their own defense and did not call any witnesses over the course of the three-week trial.

The Nassau County lawmaker first ascended to the majority leader post in 2008, following the resignation of Joe Bruno.

His tenure was marked by power-sharing arrangements made with Democrats to maintain control of the Senate, including the famous Senate coup of 2009, when four Democrats joined Republicans to seize control of the chamber.

The verdict in the Skelos trial comes a little more than a week after former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was convicted on seven counts of federal corruption, including money laundering and honest services fraud. Silver ran the Assembly chamber for 20 years before resigning the post earlier this year after his arrest.

Dean And Adam Skelos Won’t Testify In Corruption Trial

Former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos will not be testifying in his federal corruption trial, NY1’s Bobby Cuza reports.

His son and co-defendant in the case, Adam Skelos, will similarly invoke his right not to testify in the case that stems from the elder Skelos using his influence and clout as a top state lawmaker to aid the son’s business interests and secure him a no-show job.

Prosecutors are expected to present their closing argument this afternoon after wrapping their case around midday.

Attorneys for Skelos will present their closing arguments on Wednesday and the case could go before the jury by tomorrow afternoon.

Both men face eight counts including bribery, extortion and honest services fraud.

Skelos is the second top state lawmaker to have been charged with corruption this year. In November, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was found guilty of fraud and extortion as well as theft of honest services. He is appealing the case, but automatically lost his Assembly seat.

Skelos retained his seat in the Senate, but stepped down from the majority leader post in May following his arrest.

In a related development on Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whose office is prosecuting the case, has joined Twitter.

Adam Skelos Had Sought Plea Deal

Adam Skelos, the son of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, had sought a possible plea deal, according to NY1’s Bobby Cuza who is following the court proceedings.

Both Adam and Dean Skelos are on trial together facing charges that the elder Skelos used his official power as the top lawmaker in the chamber to further the son’s business interests.

It was previously revealed on Monday that one of the two men had reached out to prosecutors to explore a possible plea agreement, but at the time it was not revealed who had sought the deal.

An attorney for Adam Skelos, however, told Judge Kimba Wood on Tuesday the significance of the initial proposal was minor and that “there was not to it.”

“There was no plea discussion,” his attorney said, “It stopped before it started.”