Former New York state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son were found guilty on all eight counts by a jury in Manhattan federal court Tuesday, in a retrial that ended in the same result as the first public corruption trial held before U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood of the Southern District of New York in 2015.
The Skelos’ convictions provide the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York with a perfect record on retrial, after a jury found former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver guilty during his own retrial earlier this year.
“Yet again, a New York jury heard a sordid tale of bribery, extortion, and the abuse of power by a powerful public official of this state,” Deputy U.S. Attorney Robert Khuzami said in a statement. “And yet again, a jury responded with a unanimous verdict of guilt, in this case of Dean Skelos and his son Adam—sending the resounding message that political corruption will not be tolerated.”
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman was recused from the case.
Like Silver’s trial, the government’s presentation was mostly a rerun of its initial case against the pair who were convicted of extortion, wire fraud, solicitation of bribes and gratuities and honest services fraud related to schemes to secure jobs for Adam Skelos with companies that had business before the Legislature.
Skelos, however, diverted from the original script by taking the stand to deliver emotional testimony that sought to portray his decisions as those looking out for a son in need of help, rather than illegal machinations to use his power in state politics to muscle companies into giving his son no-show jobs in exchange for legislation important to them.
The government was forced to retry the pair after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated and remanded the jury’s verdict after finding fatal charging errors in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2016 decision in McDonnell v. United States.
At issue was the “official acts” element of the crimes, which, under the McDonnell ruling that came down after the Skelos’ conviction, needs to be more narrow than the wider set of acts a public official could perform that could be constitutionally protected. As such, the panel said it was “obliged” to send the trial back to have the jury charged with instructions that would satisfy the new McDonnell standard.
Following the jury’s verdict, Adam Skelos quickly departed the courthouse first, declining to respond to requests for comment from members of the press. The elder Skelos followed a few minutes later, just as a looming thunderstorm burst overhead. Both he and his attorney, Gage Spencer & Fleming name attorney Robert Gage, declined to comment as they walked quickly under umbrellas to a nearby car.
The jurors departed the courthouse through a separate exit. None of them opted to speak about their decision.
Wood set Oct. 24 as the pair’s sentencing date. They each face as much as 110 years in prison, but were previously sentenced to five for Dean and six-and-a-half for Adam after the initial trial.