Sen. Skelos ‘Badgered’ Him, Developer Says

     MANHATTAN (CN) – Whenever New York state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos mentioned his son, Glenwood Management’s general counsel Charles Dorego always felt “uncomfortable,” the powerful developer told a jury on Thursday.
     Dorego, in his second day of testimony, said the senator pressured him to find son Adam Skelos employment, whether inside his corporate office, an expensive steakhouse or Albany’s halls of political power.
     Forgetting some of the details of the pitch, Dorego said that the senator told him of “Adam’s struggles and that he had young children, or a young child.”
     When trial started earlier this week, a federal prosecutor emphasized that the senator’s son was hardly a pauper with a $100,000-per-year job and ambitions of buying a $600,000 house with a pool.
     The elder Skelos never mentioned his son’s income during these discussions, which often happened when Glenwood needed favorable legislation from Albany, Dorego said.
     In late 2010, the real estate industry lobbied for a tax cap during hotly contested elections where Republicans sought to take back control of the state Senate. Dorego said that the industry threw its weight behind the GOP, which had historically defended its interests.
     Dorego testified that he never witnessed a politician ask a “favor” from one of his supporters, which he called “inappropriate.”
     That did not stop Dorego from arranging a meeting with the senator’s son early the next year at the 51-story Paramount Tower in Murray Hill, a Glenwood property where Dorego had an apartment.
     There, Adam Skelos made his pitch to provide title insurance and natural gas services for Glenwood, and he followed up on the meeting with an email message about his company Utility Expense Reductions, Dorego said.
     For the younger Skelos’ company, Glenwood could have been a lucrative contact. Dorego estimated that his company spends $10 to $20 million per year on utilities.
     Glenwood’s then-CEO Leonard Litwin, a now-retired billionaire who recently celebrated his 101th birthday, instructed Dorego to listen to Adam Skelos without making any commitments, according to the testimony.
     Meanwhile, Dorego said: “I was hoping we were not going to get any more requests, and that the requests would go away.”
     Dorego explained that he worried about the senator’s “temper.”
     In a Feb. 8, 2012 email, Dorego scheduled a meeting with powerhouse developers Stephen Ross and Bruce Beal, the past and current presidents of Related Companies.
     Dorego testified that the senator fumed over what he believed to be insufficient donations from the two men to Republican state senators.
     “If they weren’t going to pony up, he was going to f— them,” Dorego said, censoring the words that he attributed to the senator’s mouth.
     Dorego added that Skelos also threatened to “f—-” Jim Whelan, the vice president of the Real Estate Board of New York, for having a Democratic consultant.
     Four days later, Adam Skelos fired off another email trying to interest Glenwood in his natural gas business, but Dorego responded that he would get back to him once he returned from a vacation in Rome.
     No sooner had Dorego returned from his Roman holiday than another message from Adam Skelos landed in his inbox, requesting a phone call.
     “I wasn’t happy that I wasn’t back 20 minutes, and I was getting an email again,” Dorego said.
     The emails show Dorego regularly reminding the recipients that the job-seeker is an Empire State political scion.
     “He’s Dean Skelos’ son, the Senate majority leader,” Dorego told another executive on April 9, 2012. “I told him we’d put him on the list. But can someone more knowledgeable than me at least take his call and chat.”
     Trying to offload the younger Skelos elsewhere, Dorego said he referred the senator’s son to an Arizona-based company AbTech, which manufactures sponges for soaking up oil from rainwater.
     Dorego told Sen. Skelos about the proposal inside the lobby of Porter House New York, which Zagat describes as a “destination stakehouse” drawing customers to Columbus Circle in Manhattan.
     As the pair made what Dorego described as an “enormously long” walk to a table in the back, Dean Skelos took the opportunity to nudge the lawyer again about finding his son a job, and Dorego told him about developments with connecting him with AbTech, he testified.
     “He said, ‘That’s going to take a long time,” Dorego testified, recalling the senator’s remark. “‘Is there any way you can help him in between?'”
     After more prodding came couple months later, Dorego said: “I was feeling we were being a bit badgered at this point.”
     On Aug. 3, 2012, Dorego sent an email to AbTech’s president Glenn Rink to make the connection, evidence showed.
     “Just to remind you, his contacts are very, very high level,” Dorego wrote in this email. “His dad is Dean Skelos, NYS Senate majority leader. I expect that you and I can work out some kind of override for handing him over to you.”
     Dorego insisted that he did not wind up getting any payments for the referral, and he denied connecting Adam Skelos to AbTech for financial gain.
     In another email, Dorego told Rink: “There is great potential for him to exploit his father’s contacts statewide.”
     Indeed, Adam Skelos kept an eye to where his father’s contacts might be handy.
     “I didn’t mention it to [AbTech president] Glenn [Rink] but Dad said he has a very strong relationship with some of the higher-ups in the Christie administration,” the younger Skelos wrote, referring to the New Jersey governor and Republican presidential candidate.
     When he returns to the stand on Friday, Dorego is expected to testify about contracts Skelos allegedly helped AbTech score in exchange for a raise for his son. Prosecutors say that Adam Skelos made more than $300,000 on jobs provided by his father.

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