ALBANY - State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos is declaring his innocence following his arrest on corruption charges.
The Rockville Centre Republican says he is completely innocent of charges that he helped two companies win lucrative contracts or tax breaks in exchange for payments that went to Skelos's son, Adam.
Prosecutors say Adam Skelos did virtually no work for the companies other than providing them with access to his father. Skelos said his son worked hard for the firms and did nothing illegal.
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"People shouldn't be penalized because of the title their father has," said Skelos. "I have never received more positive comments from people in my district as I have today. They know me, they know I'm honest and they know I've served them well."
There have been some calls for Skelos to resign or at least step down as leader of the Senate. After a three-hour closed door meeting Monday night, Republican senators announced they are backing Skelos and say he should stay on at least through the end of the legislative session next month.
If that support should erode and Skelos steps down, there is a fear that Long Island would lose some of the considerable clout it currently has in Albany. Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I – Sag Harbor) says no matter what happens, the Long Island delegation will work together.
"Long Islanders in the Legislature, we all stick together regardless of party, regardless of what chamber we're serving in, because there's not many of us compared to the city and upstate. So we have to stick together for our region," said Thiele.
Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver also had the immediate support of his party after he was arrested. He stepped down one week after his arrest.
Dean and Adam Skelos were released on their own recognizance, but were ordered to turn in their passports and any firearms. Their travel has been limited to only within the continental U.S.
If found guilty on the top count of corruption, each faces up to 20 years behind bars. Dean and Adam Skelos are due back in court on June 3.