ROCKVILLE CENTRE - Rockville Centre's Dean Skelos, once among the most powerful men in Albany, is headed to prison.

In Rockville Centre, many consider Skelos to be an institution - the local sports complex bears his name. News of Skelos' conviction was jarring to his former constituents. 

"It's sad… it's sad news," said one resident who didn't want to be identified. "He's done a lot of good things, it's a shame it had to come down to a few bad choices that he's made."

Matthew Dowd lives a block and a half away from Skelos' home. Dowd said the former state Senate majority leader welcomed his family to the neighborhood when they moved here eight years ago.

"He had been very sincere, very standup guy, and didn't show any tendencies that made you think he would do something like this," said Dowd.

The conviction may have political ramifications here as well. Newsday columnist Joye Brown says a district that Republicans have dominated for years will be up for grabs. Brown points out that Rockville Centre recently went Democratic in the election for Nassau DA.

The state Senate seat Skelos held for 30 years is now vacant. A special election will be held as early as April to fill the vacancy.

Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky, a potential Democratic candidate, called Friday's conviction a "troubling reminder" that change is needed in Albany. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, of East Northport, said he was "deeply saddened" by the verdict.