For three days on the witness stand, Dean Skelos worked at refashioning federal corruption allegations against him into something else: The saga of a doting father who would do almost anything to help his troubled son.
The jury didn’t buy it.
Instead, after three days of deliberation, a federal jury — for the second time — convicted Skelos on charges that the former State Senate majority leader had used the power of his office to get work for his son, Adam.
Along with the father, the jury also — for a second time — convicted the son, on charges of conspiring with Skelos to shake down a malpractice insurer, an insurance company and a contractor in Nassau, the county that the pair call home, for more than $300,000.
Skelos did not testify during the first trial, which resulted in convictions for both him and his son, but later were overturned on appeal.
This time around, however, Skelos surprised trial observers by deciding to testify in his own behalf.
He told jurors about his own upbringing, and how he was shaped by, among other things, the early death of his mother. He talked about other family members, including his grandfather, his first marriage, which ended in divorce, and the adoption of his son Adam.
“Adam had a lot of issues,” Skelos, 70, testified, including substance abuse, what Skelos called “educational challenges,” and a bad temper. “It’s very hard for me to talk about this,” Skelos said, “I think the adoption affected him.”
He said he did not use his powerful position to get jobs and payments for Adam Skelos from businesses with legislation being considered by the Senate.
He said, instead, that he was asking “friends” — which would imply no quid pro quo, that is, no official consideration for those “friends” in return for helping Adam Skelos.
He also was blunt in telling jurors, “Quite frankly, I’ve asked a lot of people to help my son. If I had the opportunity to ask somebody to help Adam, I would.”
Skelos, in his testimony, was asking the jury to see him as a father doing anything he could to help his own troubled child.
In so doing, Skelos also was asking jurors to ignore the fact that Skelos, until his dramatic fall, was one of the three most powerful people in Albany.
The tactic didn’t work.
With Tuesday’s verdict, Skelos and son become the most recent, in a string of defendants, to be convicted on federal corruption-related charges.
In all cases, jurors recognized corruption when they saw it.
Can elected officials in Albany say the same?