Dean Skelos Declines to Testify in Public-Corruption Trial

9 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Closing Arguments Begin in Trial of Dean Skelos and His Son.

For years, Dean and Adam Skelos were like the twin velociraptors menacing the innocent, but in this treatment, a force swooped in that made them look as feeble as underfed kittens: Behold the mighty T-Rex of justice. In a season when two of the three most powerful political figures in New York State have been hauled into court on corruption charges, you might expect at least some gaudy spoils of the alleged plunder to be on display.In closing arguments, Assistant US Attorney Rahul Mukhi described the father and son as partners in crime who used the elder Skelos’s power and influence as state Senate Majority leader as “a cash cow” to fund son Adam Skelos’s pricey lifestyle. “One of Sen.The closing statement seemed right out of a Mafia trial: There was talk of strong-arm tactics, extortion attempts and hostage demands, made by a family intent on using its influence to extract whatever riches it could.

On Monday, Gage told Wood that the decision of whether to put Dean on the stand would be made after prosecutors rested their case early Tuesday afternoon. Mukhi, a boyish, soft-spoken Harvard Law graduate who looks like he was once the kind of kid who, when asked to name his favorite varsity sport, said “chess,” reminded jury members that if they believed any one of his well-documented examples of the Skeloses conspiring to commit honest- services fraud and extortion in three separate schemes, they could just “stop there.” “Do not take the democratic power entrusted to you by the citizens and twist it to make your own family rich,” Mukhi said of the Skeloses, noting that three different companies were “strong-armed by Sen. Dean Skelos exchanged an awkward handshake with US Attorney Preet Bharara Tuesday as the government wrapped up a corruption case that could send the pol and his son to prison. Perhaps someone, somewhere, had a pink Cadillac parked outside, a condominium on the Caribbean, or maybe just a pinkie ring crusted with enough diamonds to set sunbeams dancing. Skelos, a Long Island Republican, strong-armed companies with business before the state to make more than $300,000 in illegal payments to his son and co-defendant, Adam Skelos, “under the often unspoken but always unmistakable threat of legislative action,” Assistant U.S.

Answering the same set of questions, Adam said he had a margarita the night before and told the judge that he spoke to his lawyer Christopher Conniff “a dozen or so times” over potentially taking the stand. Former State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was convicted last week in the same Manhattan federal court of collecting millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks. I think we met at one of the funerals,” as the prosecutor shook his hand and looked away without saying a word, Newsday reported. “I feel we’re going to be exonerated,” Dean told reporters outside court as his wife, Gail, muttered, “I want to go home.

One of those execs, Glenwood Management vice-president Charles Dorego, arranged for Adam to get a $20,000 “referral fee” for doing absolutely nothing, and also hooked him up with a job at another company that had ties to Glenwood ownership called AbTech. Alfonse D’Amato’s testimony for the prosecution last week regarding the senior Skelos, whom he’s known in a friendly way since the 1980s when the latter was a lawmaker on his home turf. The prosecutor cited evidence that Dean Skelos, while traveling to a funeral for a slain New York City police officer in January, confronted the Nassau County executive about money the county owed to a company that hired Adam Skelos as a consultant. They are part of a plan, a criminal plan,” Mukhi said, pointing out that the law does not allow an extortionist to get away with it just because he didn’t expressly threaten. In this case, which is likely to go to the jury on Wednesday, a parade of witnesses has said that Senator Skelos spared no effort asking people who needed legislative favors to find something for his son.

The senator later called his 33-year-old son to tell him, “All claims that are in will be taken care of,” using code language to try to cover his tracks, Mukhi said. He likened Skelos to a guy who runs up to you in the street with a hammer, then sticks his hand out: He doesn’t need to say the words, “Pay up.” All that’s left for the Skelos clan is to whine about the unfairness of it all. I need a drink.” While at the funeral for Ramos’ partner Wenjian Liu in January, Dean was taped chatting with Adam on the phone about legislation that affected AbTech Industries, the company paying Adam $10,000 a month for bogus consulting work, prosecutors said. Mukhi, an assistant United States attorney, spent the afternoon outlining the evidence in the case that had been presented to the jurors, including testimony from 20 witnesses, hundreds of exhibits and dozens of secretly recorded conversations during the four-week trial.

Silver and Skelos were two-thirds of the so-called “three men in a room,” along with the governor, who wield virtually absolute control over major legislation. Skelos then “abused his office” by using his power to help AbTech — an Arizona company — get payments from Nassau County and meetings with the state, Mukhi said. The companies — a major real estate developer, an environmental technology company and a medical malpractice insurer — “were strong-armed by Senator Skelos to pay Adam Skelos,” he added. A senior executive of one development company testified that he was exasperated and worried by the senator’s repeated pleas to help his son while the developer was hoping to influence tax legislation.

The younger Skelos also visited the Park Strategies office in Uniondale because “the senator asked if I would meet with Adam to give him some advice,” D’Amato testified. “We met with Adam and my brother Armand, who is one of our Park Strategies partners as well,” D’Amato testified. Within days of becoming majority leader in 2010, Skelos initiated what would become a “blizzard” of requests that the companies pay his son, Mukhi said. I’d like to see a list of his accomplishments compared to my brother’s accomplishments.” I don’t know what constitutes a point of pride in chez Skelos, but in the Smith household, we consider “Not being a felon” a good starting point.

Defense lawyers for the two men said the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan is criminalizing political activity and trying to paint a normal father-son relationship as an illegal conspiracy. He said that when the prospect of “working with” Adam Skelos later arose, Christopher D’Amato, the ex-senator’s son and the lobbying firm’s general counsel, along with other associates, opposed bringing him into the firm and he was not hired. The prosecutors’ case—outlined in four weeks of testimony and in hundreds of emails, phone records, calendar entries and wiretapped conversations—centers around three businesses that allegedly arranged payments or no-show jobs for Adam Skelos under pressure from his father. “People don’t get paid for nothing,” Mr. Skelos’s former supervisor at the company had previously testified that the senator’s son threatened to “smash” in his head after he questioned the son’s work ethic.

The companies didn’t get “hard work” from Adam Skelos, or hire him because they thought the companies were a “good fit” for the senator’s son. He described a “quid pro quo” arrangement in which the senator rewarded companies that paid his son by meeting with their lobbyists, advancing legislation that benefited them and directing his staff to set up desired meetings with state officials. Mukhi directed jurors to the testimony of Charles Dorego, an executive at real-estate developer Glenwood Management who said that he helped arrange a $20,000 payment to Adam Skelos after repeated requests from the senator. Robert Gage Jr., the lawyer for Senator Skelos, told the jury in an opening statement. “You could root for your son, care for your son, and be involved with your son, as Senator Skelos was. Adam Skelos has had less kind words or the prosecutor — he was caught on a wiretap railing about “f—ing Preet Bharara” making his life hell in a phone call with his dad.

County Executive Edward Mangano’s potential troubles arising from his own private friendship — with indicted restaurateur Harendra Singh — cropped up in an indirect way. Despite evidence Mukhi described as “damning” and “overwhelming,” the Long Island senator, who declined to take the stand in his own defense, said he was still feeling confident. Lawyers in discussion with Judge Kimba Wood alluded to the prospect that Mangano might have been called to testify about the county’s dealings with a stormwater filter company that formerly employed Adam Skelos. Skelos was portrayed by the witnesses as an entitled slacker — demanding jobs, getting them and barely doing a lick of work — the defense lawyers have said, in effect, that being annoying is not a federal crime.

That is Adam.” Prosecutors had blocked what they called sympathy evidence, which might have shown that Adam Skelos, who was adopted, had an emotionally turbulent life. Mukhi noted that a public official is guilty of corruption even “if he would have and should have taken the same action without the corrupt payment.” Mr. Conniff said. “The government is trying to tell you that this father’s effort to be a good parent and a good friend to a sometimes immature and emotional son is part of some kind of criminal scheme.” Parents do try to line up jobs for their kids. Conniff said bank robbery was a violent crime and he thought “it was too far to compare this to bank robbery.” During a break, Dean Skelos introduced himself to U.S.

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