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Dean Skelos: $500,000 fine in corruption case ‘unwarranted’

Former Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos talks to

Former Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos talks to reporters in a hallway at the Capitol on Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, in Albany. Credit: AP / Mike Groll

Former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said in a Manhattan federal court filing on Wednesday that prosecutors’ push for a $500,000 fine to strip the benefits of his public pension at his upcoming sentencing on corruption charges was “unprecedented and unwarranted.”

Prosecutors have urged a fine well above the level called for in federal sentencing guidelines to take away some of the benefit of Skelos’ $95,000 annual state pension when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood on May 12 for using his power as the Senate leader to get companies to hire his son.

Skelos’ lawyers said a $500,000 fine would amount to roughly half of the present value of the pension; ignore his “years of faithful service” to earn the pension; punish his wife, daughter-in-law and grandchildren, who are “innocent parties”; and run afoul of a New York constitutional provision that protects public pensions.

“Only 12 percent of Mr. Skelos’ career was tainted by alleged criminal activity,” lawyer G. Robert Gage contended in the filing.

In a letter to Wood last week, the government argued that Skelos has $2 million in assets in addition to the pension, a $500,000 fine would represent only five years of pension payments, and taking half the present value of the pension was “manifestly just” because he was convicted of corrupt acts over a five-year period.

Prosecutors have also called for Skelos to get a stiff prison sentence, while Skelos has asked for no prison time.

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