Anthony Bonomo, the former CEO of Roslyn-based Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers, testified on Monday that he was afraid to fire Adam Skelos, the son of former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre).
“I just didn’t want to have a problem with the senator,” Bonomo said, according to a report by Newsday.
His testimony was part of the second week of the retrial of Dean and Adam Skelos at a courthouse in Manhattan.
Earlier in the trial, another employee at Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers said that Adam Skelos threatened to “smash [his] [expletive] head in” after he confronted Skelos about not coming into the office. Adam Skelos was paid an annual salary of $78,000 even though he did not have a license to sell insurance.
The two Skelos men are again facing charges that Dean Skelos used his power in Albany to secure jobs and fees worth $300,000 for Adam Skelos from Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers, New Hyde Park real estate developer Glenwood Management and Arizona-based environmental technology firm AbTech Industries.
The father and son 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 ruling by the Supreme Court was also used to overturn the corruption conviction of Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was accused of using his power to secure payments from Glenwood Management and others.
At his retrial, Silver was found guilty in May on all seven counts of bribery, extortion, money laundering and honest services fraud. He remains free on bail and will be sentenced on July 13, according to The New York Times.
Bonomo testified that he hired Adam at the behest of Dean Skelos. Last week, an executive at Glenwood Management testified that Dean Skelos requested that the company steer business to his son who was “struggling” financially, according to Newsday. Documents compiled by the FBI showed that Adam Skelos took home $441,099 in 2013, up from $145,513 in 2010.
By 2015, Adam Skelos seemed to be aware that federal prosecutors were watching him closely. In several wiretapped conversations played last Thursday, Skelos told an executive at AbTech in February 2015 that “there’s very little I could talk about with you right now on this phone,” according to Newsday. Later that month, his father told him that “we are in dangerous times, Adam.”
In the recordings, Adam Skelos discussed purchasing a prepaid “burner” cellphone, according to Newsday, as he was concerned that someone might be listening to his cellphone conversation. He also discussed using a secret code through text messages to talk with an AbTech executive.
Dean Skelos helped AbTech win a $12 million contract with the Nassau County government, according to testimony.
Reach reporter Luke Torrance by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 214, or follow him on Twitter @LukeATorrance.