Less than two weeks after former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver was convicted on bribery charges, his state Senate contemporary, former Majority Leader Dean Skelos, was found guilty of corruption on Friday.
The 67-year-old Skelos and his 33-year-old son, Adam, were convicted in Federal District Court on all charges, which included three counts of extortion under color of official right, two counts of soliciting bribes in connection with a federal program and one count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud.
The father-son duo are facing up to 130 years in prison, according to reports, and will be sentenced early next year.
The elder Skelos allegedly used his position to get money into the pockets of his son. Among the allegations made by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are that Dean Skelos got a developer dependent on him for tax breaks to give Adam Skelos $20,000, and an environmental technology company seeking to do business with the state to give him $10,000 a month.
"The swift convictions of Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos beg an important question," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement, "how many prosecutions will it take before Albany gives the people of New York the honest government they deserve?"
State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) said in a statement released a few hours after Skelos' conviction said his former colleague's actions constituted a selfish betrayal of his duties as a member of the state Legislature.
"The most recent conviction of yet another elected leader in Albany only further highlights the need for major ethics reform in our Capitol," Addabbo said. "As an elected official, there is no greater betrayal than putting your own selfish desires above the needs of the people you represent. By focusing our legislative efforts on bringing serious ethical and professional changes to our state's Capitol, we can begin to restore New Yorkers' faith in government and show them that corruption and abuse of power will not be tolerated."
Gov. Cuomo also released a statement, saying the convictions of both Skelos and Silver should serve as a "wake up call" to the state Legislature as a whole.
"There can be no tolerance for those who use, and seek to use, public service for private gain," Cuomo said. "The justice system worked today. However, more must be done and will be pursued as part of my legislative agenda."
The Nassau County Republican is the fifth state Senate leader in a row to be charged with corruption. The other four are Malcolm Smith of Jamaica, John Sampson of Brooklyn, Pedro Espada of the Bronx and Joe Bruno of the Albany suburbs.
Silver was convicted on Nov. 30.
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