Monday, May 4, 2015

Skelos, Son Charged With Fraud And Extortion

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his 32-year-old son Adam Skleos have been charged with six counts of fraud and extortion, according to a complaint released by federal investigators on Monday. 

The 43-page complaint alleges the elder Skelos sought to “monetize” his official position in order to influence public policy on behalf of a company that employed Adam Skelos while also leaning on members of the real-estate community for campaign donations. 

Skelos is accused of backing favorable legislation that benefited real-estate developers tied to the case as well as helping arrange for a favorable contract in Nassau County that was directed to AbTech, which employed Adam Skelos. 

The charges outlined in the complaint come after Skelos and his son surrendered to federal authorities earlier this month. Both men are named as co-defendants in the case that comes just months after Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was arrested on corruption charges. 

Senate Republicans are due to meet privately at the Capitol this afternoon, where the charges are expected to be discussed. 

The case against Skelos, a Long Island Republican who has led the Senate GOP conference since 2008, relies on a cooperating witness identified as a developer and another is an executive at AbTech, the Arizona-based company that employed his son. 

Investigators relied as well on wire tapped phone calls of both his phone as well as Adam’s cell phone. 

Both men are accused of using a disposable or “burner” cell phone and used “coded language” in order to communicate. 

At one point, Adam Skelos is overheard in a wire tap that “It’s like [expletive] Preet Bharara is listening to every [expletive] phone call.”

The investigation stretched back to 2010, just before Senate Republicans gained a full majority in the chamber, accusing Skelos of taking official action on votes as well as efforts to include favorable legislation into the state budget. 

The complaint alleges Skelos directly asked to send its insurance title work to his son and alleges the lawmaker would “punish member of the real estate community” if they didn’t contribute enough campaign money. 

Company officials at AbTech were under the impression that if they “took care” of Skelos, then he would “take care of them” in kind, according to the complaint. 

In emails, Skelos directed witnesses cooperating with the federal government to direct where company money would go, which was funneled through various LLC subsidiaries. 

Skelos was “personally lobbied” on the extension of rent control regulations by the company in 2011. Skelos, in turn, backed legislation that year that was considered “crucial” to the success of one of the developers involved, including the expansion of the 421-a real-estate abatement. 

The developer, identified as “Developer-1″ in the complaint, is likely part of Glenwood Management, a firm that has significant investment in AbTech and has ties to prolific campaign donor Leonard Litwin. 

Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins in a statement called the charges “deeply disturbing.”

“I cannot imagine him continuing to serve as leader as he deals with the cloud of corruption now effecting the top two Senate Republican leaders,” she said in a statement. “There are many pressing issues that must be addressed during the remainder of the legislative session and the Senate Republican Majority must ensure that this body is not bogged down in scandal.”

Federal prosecutors are expected to outline the charges against Skelos and son later today at a news conference. 

U S v Skelos 15 Mag 1492 (filed).pdf by Nick Reisman

No comments: