A little more than a week after powerful former State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was sentenced to 12 years in prison, his one-time State Senate counterpart learned today that he’ll be doing time, as well. Former State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos was sentenced to five years in prison today, and also was also fined $500,000. Skelos and his son, Adam, were found guilty in December on eight federal counts of bribery, extortion, and conspiracy. Judge Kimba Wood also sentenced Adam Skelos to six and a half years in jail, and imposed a $334,120 forfeiture to be paid jointly by Dean and Adam.
During the trial, prosecutors argued that the Skeloses pressured three companies — a developer, an environmental technology company, and a malpractice insurer — into giving Adam hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments and benefits in return for political favors from Dean. In all, they’d sought extortion payments of $760,120, and obtained more than $334,000. Dean Skelos lost his Senate seat immediately upon his conviction.
During today’s sentencing, Dean Skelos said that “I am deeply remorseful. It has destroyed my reputation.” He said that he tried to be a good father but “Somewhere my judgment became clouded … I let things go off the rails.” Added the former State Senate leader: “For that I apologize to Adam.” At one point, Skelos also apologized to his Greek-American family:
Judge Wood said that Adam Skelos’s bullying and threats required a sentence that deters him from such behavior in the future. She ordered him to participate in a mental-health program in prison, and also recommended alcohol and drug treatment.
Like Silver, Dean Skelos had been one of the most powerful men in the state government. And like Silver, he was brought down by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s campaign against public corruption. Federal prosecutors had been seeking a sentence of 12 to 15 years for Dean, and had also pushed for a fine of more than $350,000.
After Dean Skelos’s sentence was announced, Bharara released a statement that read in part:
“In the span of just 16 months, we have seen the arrest, prosecution, conviction, and sentencing of both leaders of the New York State legislature. The nearly simultaneous convictions of Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos, whose corruption crimes were laid bare during fair and public trials, have no precedent. And while Silver and Skelos deserve their prison sentences, the people of New York deserve better.”
In his statement, Bharara also vowed to continue exposing corruption in the state, and made a not-so-veiled reference the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, which Governor Cuomo controversially shut down in 2014: “These cases show — and history teaches — that the most effective corruption investigations are those that are truly independent and not in danger of either interference or premature shutdown. That will continue to be our guiding principle in exposing and punishing corruption throughout New York.”