Fracking at Heart of New NYC Corruption Case

     MANHATTAN (CN) – New York Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son used bribery and extortion to benefit his son in schemes involving a real estate developer and hydrofracturing contractor, federal prosecutors alleged on Monday.
     The latest corruption case against a New York politician involves allegations of code words, burner phones and wiretapped phone calls.
     In one taped conversation, Skelos allegedly bragged about the powers of his office.
     “I’m going to be president of the Senate,” the 43-page complaint quotes the Long Island Republican as saying. “I’m going to be majority leader. I’m going to control everything. I’m going to control who gets on what committees, what legislation goes to the floor, what legislation comes through committees, the budget, everything.”
     FBI agent Paul Takla shields the names of the developer and environmental technology company said to be involved in the father-and-son scheme that the complaint depicts.
     “This case involves a scheme by defendant Dean Skelos, the New York State Senate majority leader, and his son, defendant Adam Skelos, to monetize Dean Skelos’s official position by extorting money from others for Adam Skelos, with the expectation that such payments would influence the official actions of Dean Skelos,” Takla wrote.
     The unnamed developer arranged for the younger Skelos to receive a $20,000 payment disguised as a commission for work that never was performed, according to the complaint.
     An environmental technology company seeking to win government contracts related to possible fracking regulations allegedly paid Adam Skelos $4,000 per month.
     “In 2013, when Nassau County was considering awarding the environmental technology company a multi-million-dollar contract, the defendants threatened to block the contract unless payments to Adam Skelos were substantially increased,” the complaint states. “In response to the threat, the environmental technology company agreed to increase Adam Skelos’s payments to $10,000 per month and received the assurance that if the environmental technology company ‘took care’ of Adam Skelos, Dean Skelos would ‘take care’ of the environmental technology company. The environmental technology company has paid a total of at least $198,000 to Adam Skelos through February 2015.”
     Perhaps still raw after a federal judge rebuked him for the press spectacle over corruption charges against New York Assemblyman Sheldon Silver, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara carefully worded the prepared remarks he delivered about the Skelos family on Monday.
     Emphasizing the state senator’s presumption of innocence, Bharara alleged: “Dean Skelos’s support for certain infrastructure projects and legislation was often based, not on what was good for his constituents or good for New York, but rather on what was good for his son’s bank account. By now, two things should be abundantly clear. First, public corruption is a deep-seated problem in New York State. It is a problem in both chambers; it is a problem on both sides of the aisle. And second, we are deadly serious about tackling that problem.”
     Bharara’s “media blitz” regarding Silver’s arrest nearly tainted the jury pool for the former speaker’s case, a court found last month.
     When asked whether this experience chastened him, Gotham’s top prosecutor would not take the bait.
     “You’re asking me at a press conference to talk about a judge’s opinion that talked about a press conference? Nice try,” Bharara replied, to laughter in the press room.

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