Federal appeals panel vacates Dean Skelos and son’s corruption convictions
Former New York Senate majority leader Dean Skelos, 69, and his son Adam Skelos, were convicted in December 2015 of a shakedown scheme
In May 2016, a fed court in Manhattan sentenced Dean and Adam Skelos to 5 and 6 1/2 years in prison, respectively
The Skelos’ lawyers successfully argued their conviction should be tossed because of new interpretation of corruption law
Federal appeals panel overturned corruption convictions of former NY Senate majority Leader Dean Skelos and son on cash shakedown charges
A federal appeals panel threw overturned the corruption convictions of former New York Senate majority leader Dean Skelos and his son, court documents revealed Tuesday.
Skelos, 69, and his son Adam Skelos were convicted in December 2015 of a shakedown scheme.
The father and son combo prosecutors said, had pressured businesses dependent on government business to squeeze cash into Adam Skelo’s pockets, such as with no-show jobs.
In May Dean Skelos’ lawyers filed an appeal in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to have their corruption-related convictions for running the shakedown scheme vacated because the prosecutors’ arguments conflict with a new interpretation of public corruption law, by the highest court in the land, the defense team argued.
The Dean Skelos accused of shaking down business dependent on government patronage
was convicted of extortion and conspiracy charges in relation to the scheme in December 2015. The jury also found Adam guilty of aiding and abetting his dad.
Dean Skelos’ lawyers successfully argued that his conviction and that of his son Adam [right], should be tossed because of new interpretation of corruption laws by the Supreme court
In May 2016, they court sentenced Dean and Adam to 5 and 6 1/2 in jail, respectively.
Although the majority leader and his son were implicated in several schemes, prosecutors focused on a deal where the once-powerful politician helped arrange a meeting for AbTech Industries with the state Department of Health, while the company was paying his Adam $10,000 per month.
In the appeal suit, Alexandra Shapiro, Dean Skelos’ lawyer, argued a June 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decision in a public corruption case in Virginia undermined prosecutors’ position that arranging a meeting can lawfully lead to their conviction. On the basis that prosecutors’ arguments conflicted with that U.S. Supreme Court interpretation of public corruption law when the justices tossed former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s 2014 corruption conviction for allegedly receiving $175,000 in gifts and loans from a businessman peddling questionable ‘vitamins’ and then arranging meetings for him with state health officials.
The justices determined setting up meetings doesn’t make for the kind of “official act” establishing bribery.
Shapiro argued, “it’s impossible to tell” whether the jury convicted the Skelo father and son based on the meeting or on the other counts, which undermined their convictions.
While the panel of judges was skeptical of Shapiro’s arguments, they also expressed concern over the meeting in light of the McDonnell case.
“Yes, we did argue that they could convict based on the Department of Health meeting,” said prosecutor Thomas McKay in his response.
The conviction of former NY House of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver [photo], was overturned on appeal following the Supreme Court ruling in favor of Gov Bob McDonnell of Virginia
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals panel sided with the Skelos lawyers’ arguments, determining the jury instructions were wrong under the new interpretation of public corruption under federal law.
The panel vacated the conviction, kicking it down to a lower court, though not reversing the guilty verdict outright.
The same law led to the overturning of the corruption conviction of the former NY Hose of Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, 73, in July. During Silver’s appeal in March, his lawyers also argued the McDonnell case undermined the ex-Speaker’s corruption conviction in two unrelated quid-pro-quo schemes.