Skelos to remain in Senate seat despite federal charges

News 12 Long Island has learned that despite corruption charges against Sen. Dean Skelos, he will remain the majority leader in the state Senate.

Skelos for years participated in a scheme to extort bribes that enriched his son, while using his own position as the leader of the Senate to benefit the firms that made the payments, federal prosecutors alleged Monday in a six-count corruption complaint.

Skelos, a Republican from Rockville Centre, and his son, Adam, surrendered to authorities in Manhattan Monday to face the charges.

The complaint says Dean Skelos unlawfully used his influence to extort money and make deals totaling about $220,000 to benefit Adam Skelos.

"Sen. Skelos and Adam Skelos worked as a team to illegally monetize the senator's power and influence to take care of Adam Skelos' financial needs," said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara at a press conference.

Prosecutors say the senator extorted a real estate company to make campaign contributions to Republicans and secured the hiring of his son through an Arizona-based environmental company. Dean Skelos then allegedly pressured Nassau County to award the Arizona firm a $12 million stormwater contract. Adam Skelos was given large monthly payments for work that wasn't performed, according to the complaint.

The complaint also alleges that Skelos demanded the bribes for his 32-year-old son starting in 2010. It wasn't until January, when Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was arrested, that the Skeloses became suspicious they were being watched by investigators, and allegedly sought to conceal their activities. Prosecutors say the younger Skelos went so far as to cancel meetings, talk in code and get a disposable "burner" cellphone to communicate with his father.

During their initial court appearance Monday, Dean Skelos slowly shook his head while the charges were read. "I know that at the end of this process I will not only be found not guilty, but I will be found completely innocent," the senator said.

The two 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.



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