Prosecutors, defense lay out cases in Skelos and son retrial

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NEW YORK -

Opening statements began Wednesday in the retrial of ex-New York Senate leader Dean Skelos and his son on corruption charges after their original conviction was overturned.

The former state Senate majority leader was optimistic as he entered the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan. The Rockville Centre Republican was convicted on corruption charges at the same courthouse in 2015 alongside his son, Adam.

Those convictions were tossed out in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling that narrowed the definition of what constitutes an "official act" by government officials.

The government alleges that then-state Senate Majority Leader Skelos used his political clout to intimidate companies into paying his son thousands of dollars. Prosecutors told the jury that witnesses and federal wiretap recordings will prove that "this case is about the abuse of political power to satisfy personal greed.”

The wiretap recordings figure to be a key part of the government's case. The defense argues that the conversations heard on tape are not conversations between co-conspirators, but rather discussions between a father and son. Between a young man with a volatile personality and a father trying to keep his son on course.

Dean Skelos' defense attorney told the jury, “There was no trade, no quid pro quo, no formal exchange....no criminal exchange.”

Adam Skelos' attorney said the same.

Dean Skelos' wife Gail says regardless of the outcome in this retrial, her family has already been destroyed.

“Everybody has lost everything, and we’re never going to get that back,” she said.

In 2015, former State Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver was convicted in a separate federal corruption case. Silver's conviction was also overturned on appeal after the Supreme Court's ruling. The Manhattan Democrat was convicted by a different jury during his retrial earlier this year.

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