NEW YORK – Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, 67, and his son, Adam B. Skelos, 32, turned themselves May 4, on federal corruption charges at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York office in Lower Manhattan, where they were arrested.
“The charges against them were detailed in a six-count criminal complaint filed in United States District Court in Manhattan and include conspiracy, extortion under the color of official right, honest services wire fraud and bribe solicitation. The accusations stem from a federal investigation focused on the younger man’s business dealings…including payments to Adam Skelos by an Arizona environmental company, AbTech Industries,” according to the New York Times.
The charges against them were detailed by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who on Jan. 22 arrested then-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, on corruption charges, wrote the Chronicle.
Skelos’ arrest will be another significant setback to the state Capitol. Skelos, first elected majority leader in 2008, is part of the so-called “three men in a room” — the Assembly speaker, Senate leader and governor who work on the budget and legislation behind closed doors.
The senator and his son have been a focal point of a federal probe that looked into numerous matters, the New York Times reported, including the son’s business dealings.
“In recent months, federal authorities gained the cooperation of two senior executives from businesses that had directed or paid about $220,000 in payments to Adam Skelos, the complaint said. One was an executive at a prominent Long Island real estate firm; the other, who worked at AbTech, secretly recorded conversations, including some with Adam Skelos — who, at one point, used a disposable phone in an unsuccessful effort to avoid government surveillance,” according to the Times.
“In one taped conversation,” it was reported, “Adam Skelos acknowledged that he got the job with AbTech even though he “literally knew nothing about water or, you know, any of that stuff.”
Federal authorities have been seeking to determine, the Times reported, whether Senator Skelos exerted any influence in matters involving AbTech, some of the people have said. Investigators have also been reviewing whether AbTech’s hiring of the younger Skelos was part of a scheme in which the senator would in exchange take official action to benefit AbTech or another company, Glenwood Management, a politically influential real estate developer that has had ties to AbTech.
The arrests, coming roughly three months after federal bribery and kickback charges led Assemblyman Sheldon Silver to step down as speaker, would signal an extension of the investigation into allegations of political corruption in Albany, and would almost certainly further upend the legislative session.
WILL HE RESIGN?
Skelos will reportedly try to make the case later in the day in Albany that he should keep his leadership post because his case is different from the bribery and kickback charges that cause Assemblyman Sheldon Silver to resign as speaker of teh State Assembly.
“He doesn’t believe he’s done anything wrong,” said one source close to the powerful Nassau County Republican.
Skelos, one Daily News source said, “still has the support from his members, including Sen. Catharine Young, a Cattaraugus Republican considered a possible Skelos successor. Young told the Buffalo News on Saturday she is still backing Skelos and doesn’t expect him to go anywhere. ‘They are a very cohesive group,” the insider said of the GOP conference.'”
One GOP senator said Sunday it would be difficult for Skelos to survive if he’s charged. The senator said there would be a lot of pressure on senators to pick a new leader, especially from forces still upset Skelos allowed Gov. Cuomo’s tough gun control law to come to the floor for a vote.
However, “I think things could unfold quickly if he’s charged,” the senator said. “I also think if (Skelos) thought he was a detriment, I wouldn’t be surprised if he were to offer to step aside before it ever came to a show down.”
Another source close to the Senate GOP told the Daily News he doesn’t think Skelos will survive an indictment.
“The members are being very careful and respectful, but practical and realistic….But if something comes down, my guess within 48 hours there will be a new leader.”
Some senators said on may 2 that “while Skelos’ members are standing by him for now, they are also waiting to see the specifics of the case against him. If they believe the charges are minor, he could stay on as leader,” the Daily News reported.