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Tuesday, July 23, 2024 | Back issues
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Senator’s Nepotism an Insult, Prosecutor Says

MANHATTAN (CN) - Capping off a three-week trial, a federal prosecutor told a jury to reject the "insulting" idea that a father's love excuses New York state Sen. Dean Skelos pressuring of companies that depend on state legislation to cut his son six-figure checks.

"It's insulting to all fathers and mothers who manage to help their sons and daughters without committing crimes," Assistant U.S. Attorney Rahul Mukhi said on Tuesday.

A little more than a week has passed since federal prosecutors in Manhattan knocked another powerful figure in Albany - former Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver - out of his office by convicting him of obtaining millions in bribes and kickbacks.

Like the Democrat Silver, the Republican Skelos has been described as one of the "three men in a room" among powerful state legislators.

Both Silver and the Skelos family attempted similar defenses at trial, essentially conceding that they made money on businesses that lobbied them but denying that any quid pro quo took place.

In 2010, son Adam Skelos already had a six-figure salary with ambitions to buy a $600,000 apartment with a pool.

His senator father admittedly tried to boost his son's income by helping him find employment with his contacts at Glenwood Management, a developer once known as the state's heaviest donor.

Charles Dorego, the company's general counsel, regaled a jury for days about how the senator and his son repeatedly "badgered" him to find a job for Adam.

Though he said that the request struck him as "inappropriate," Dorego said he helped connect Adam Skelos with Glenwood's contacts at the Arizona-based contractor AbTech because he wanted to stay in the senator's good graces.

Glenwood relied on favorable legislation regarding rent regulation to protect their profits, Dorego said.

Attorneys for the Skeloses have emphasized that their clients never made an explicit agreement to exchange bribes and favors.

Ridiculing this defense, prosecutor Mukhi said the senator and his son conducted their business with a "wink and a nod."

"This is the real world, ladies and gentlemen, not the made-up world where public officials make announcements when asking for a bribe," he said.

Even after Adam Skelos landed the job at AbTech, his senator father pressured Dorego to get him money quickly before his salary got processed, the lawyer said.

Trial evidence showed that this came in the form of a $20,000 check from American Land Service, a title insurance company linked to Glenwood. Its executive Thomas Dwyer acknowledged that he made the payment to Adam Skelos at Dorego's request.

"Charlie [Dorego] did tell me something to the effect of this should get Dean off my back," Dwyer told the jury, referring to the payment.

For Mukhi, this "money for nothing" was "devastating, devastating proof" of a corrupt arrangement.

Prosecutors also deployed dozens of wiretaps that they say caught Sen. Skelos and his son speaking to each other in code, and the father pressuring Nassau County executive Ed Mangano to steer a contract to use AbTech's sponge products to clean water pipes in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

"Somebody feels like they're sort of getting jerked around for the last two years," the senator cryptically told Mangano, in one recording played for the jury on Tuesday.

After the call ended, Mukhi described the recording as "a quid pro quo in real time."

On Wednesday, the government's summation will continue before the defense attorneys have a chance to respond.

During opening arguments, the senator's attorney Robert Gage from the firm Gage, Spencer & Fleming and his son's attorney Christopher Coniff from the firm Ropes & Gray painted the Skelos' relationship as one between an indulgent father and an immature son.

Mukhi treated this portrait with withering sarcasm, playing on the senator's supposed platform of job creation.

"You bet it was," the prosecutor said. "Job creation for Adam Skelos."

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