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Skelos retrial prosecutors: No Rob Walker testimony needed

Prosecutors in the upcoming retrial of former State Senate leader Dean Skelos in Manhattan federal court want the judge to let them read back testimony of newly indicted former Chief Deputy Nassau County Executive Rob Walker from the first trial instead of having to call him live.

Walker testified at the first trial that Skelos pressured then-County Executive Edward Mangano for payments on a contract with a company that hired Skelos’ son. Mangano is now on trial in a separate corruption case. In February, Walker was charged with obstruction and false statements after prosecutors said he got $5,000 from a county contractor in 2014.

A lawyer for Walker has said he will invoke his right against self-incrimination if questioned about the charges during testimony at a retrial of Skelos, the government said in the motion filed with U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood.

“To the extent the defendants wish to put the fact of the recent charges before the jury, the Government has no objection to them doing so through reasonable alternative means, such as an instruction from the Court or a stipulation of fact between the parties,” prosecutors said. Skelos’ lawyers have not yet replied.

Former Republican power broker Skelos, 70, and his son, Adam, 35, both of Rockville Centre, are scheduled for a June retrial on charges that Dean Skelos leveraged his power in Albany to get jobs and fees for Adam from a developer, a malpractice insurer, and AbTech, a storm water contractor hired by Nassau.

Their 2015 convictions were reversed last year, based on a new Supreme Court decision that narrowed the scope of federal public corruption laws. Skelos’ lawyers have moved for a change of location to the Midwest because of prejudicial publicity.

In addition to insulating Walker from cross-examination about the new charges he faces, prosecutors are also asking Wood to protect another key witness who has run into trouble since the first trial — Anthony Bonomo, who once ran the Physicians Reciprocal Insurers malpractice company through an affiliate.

Bonomo, a horse owner whose Always Dreaming won the 2017 Kentucky Derby, testified at last year’s trial that Skelos used his influence over malpractice legislation to force Bonomo to hire Adam Skelos and keep him on the payroll, even when he didn’t show up for work and used abusive language.

Last year, Bonomo was ousted by New York’s Department of Financial Services over alleged self-dealing, mismanagement and cronyism. Skelos’ lawyers have subpoenaed the state and the malpractice company, and hope to use the accusations to attack Bonomo’s credibility, but prosecutors want Wood to stop them.

In their pretrial motion, filed late Monday, they argued that Bonomo is contesting the state’s allegations in court and has not been accused of actual fraud, so the judge should block cross examination to avoid distracting jurors from the charges against the Skeloses.

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