Dean Skelos returns to court as retrial begins

Dean Skelos returns to court as retrial begins
Former state Sen. Dean Skelos, who was convicted of corruption charges in 2015, has been released from prison after testing positive for the coronavirus. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Less than nine months after they had their conviction overturned, former state Senate Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and his son Adam returned to court on Tuesday in Manhattan.

The two men are once again facing charges that Dean Skelos used his power in Albany to secure jobs and fees worth $300,000 for Adam Skelos from New Hyde Park real estate developer Glenwood Management, Roslyn malpractice insurance firm Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers and Arizona-based environmental technology firm AbTech Industries.

The pair were convicted on corruption charges in 2015, but the conviction was overturned last September by a federal appeals court, citing a U.S. Supreme Court case involving former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, which narrowed the definition of an “official act” and what constitutes corruption.

That same ruling from the Supreme Court was used to overturn the corruption conviction of Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was also accused of using his power to secure payments from Glenwood Management and others.

While attorneys for Skelos and Silver praised the decisions to overturn the convictions last autumn, federal prosecutors at the time vowed to press ahead despite having to prove corruption under a narrower definition.

“While we are disappointed in the decision … we look forward to a prompt retrial where we will have another opportunity to present the overwhelming evidence of Dean Skelos’ and Adam Skelos’ guilt,” then acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said in September.

The prosecutors’ confidence proved to be justified in the Silver retrial, as Silver was found guilty on all seven counts of bribery, extortion, money laundering and honest services fraud.

The trial lasted only two weeks before the jury reached a conclusion.

Silver remains free on bail and will be sentenced on July 13, according to The New York Times.

Recently, attorneys for the Skelos’ have sought a change of venue because they said questionnaires from potential jurors showed hostility to Republicans, Newsday reported. And last month, Skelos’ attorney Robert Gage said prosecutors were turning a blind eye to the alleged corruption of one witness, Anthony Bonomo of Manhasset.

Bonomo was CEO of Physicians Reciprocal Insurers, a role from which he has since been ousted. Newsday reported that defense would likely focus on Bonomo’s shortcomings to discredit his testimony.

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