A lawyer for former state Senate power broker Dean Skelos argued in a sentencing memorandum filed Wednesday that he should get no prison time because infertility contracted as a teen left scars that made him too devoted to his adopted son Adam to resist helping him years later.
“His ‘infirmity’ brought an abiding sadness because he was unable to carry the family legacy,” lawyer Robert Gage wrote in a letter to U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood, later adding, “It was Mr. Skelos’ extreme, almost blind, loyalty to his son that made him constantly take Adam’s side, no matter what.”
Skelos, 68, and Adam, 33, both of Rockville Centre, are scheduled to be sentenced April 13 in Manhattan federal court for conspiring to use Dean’s power as Republican majority leader to help Adam get work from a real estate developer, a malpractice insurer and an environmental firm.
Adam Skelos’ lawyer also asked for no jail time, urging Wood to show “mercy” by giving him community service with drug and alcohol treatment, and citing a history of abuse by a stepfather leading to substance abuse, the needs of his two autistic children, the imminent failure of his marriage and his humiliation at having brought down his father.
“Adam understands that his actions have caused significant damage to the public’s confidence in its elected representatives and that he must be punished,” lawyer Chris Conniff wrote. “More importantly, he has seen the tremendous harm that his actions have caused to the man that he loves and admires so much.”
Witnesses at trial last year portrayed Adam as a bully who threatened repercussions from his father to get his way at work and used abusive language toward colleagues and potential customers. But Conniff called him “warm and loving” and Adam’s wife Ann Marie, in a handwritten note announcing their separation, said he was a devoted father and urged the judge to be lenient.
“He has some demons and personal issues to address but I pray he gets a chance to do that beyond the walls of a federal prison but in a program that could help make him a better man,” she wrote. “… The trial showed him that he has a dark side that he is not proud of.”
Gage’s wrenchingly personal letter urged Wood to recognize and make use of Skelos’ “unique talents” and lifetime of public service, tracing the roots of his actions to his shock at being left infertile by a case of the mumps in 1966 after growing up in a large, loving extended family.
Because of that, Gage said, Dean formed an “extraordinary bond” when he adopted Adam in 1982, committed to healing the boy’s sense of abandonment and remaining “always loyal to Adam, sometimes to a fault,” through substance abuse, behavioral and employment struggles.
“What makes this case both extraordinary and far outside the heartland of public corruption cases,” Gage wrote, “is that it arises from a father’s love for a son.”
The two men each face up to 120 years in prison.