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Dean Skelos should get more than five years in prison, prosecutors tell judge

Skelos "forfeited his right to be a Senator, or to practice law, when he violated the public's trust and committed federal crimes to benefit himself and his family," a federal prosecutor wrote in court papers.

Dean Skelos, center, and his wife, Gail, right,

Dean Skelos, center, and his wife, Gail, right, leaving federal court in New York in July.  Photo Credit: AP/Mary Altaffer

Former State Senate leader Dean Skelos — convicted of bribery, extortion and conspiracy — should receive a sentence longer than 5 years because he lied to the jury and the court when he testified in his defense at his trial, prosecutors said Friday in papers filed in Manhattan federal court.

“He took the witness stand and tried to spin a tale about an innocent, doting father, unfairly prosecuted for the misdeeds of his son by an overreaching government,” prosecutors said in a supplemental sentencing memorandum sent to U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood. “The jury didn’t buy it. This Court should not indulge it by failing to account for his false testimony in imposing sentence.”

Skelos, 70, of Rockville Centre, who was one of the most powerful politicians in New York, was convicted in July. Prosecutors said Skelos used the power of his public office to pressure business executives who needed his vote to give his son, Adam, about $300,000 in fees and an assortment of jobs that required Adam to rarely show up for work or not at all.

In his defense, Dean Skelos testified that he was just a father trying to help his troubled adopted son. He said those requests for help — to developer Glenwood Management, Nassau County stormwater contractor AbTech Industries, and an affiliate of Physicians Reciprocal Insurers, a Roslyn malpractice insurer — were never tied to his position as majority leader.

Prosecutors, however, painted a different Dean Skelos, who rose to the Senate leadership in 2010, as a “brass-knuckled power broker who cursed at other lawmakers in phone calls and shook down constituents for bribes."

Both Dean Skelos and Adam Skelos, 36, also of Rockville Centre, were convicted on all eight charges. A different jury had found father and son guilty of the same charges in 2015 but the convictions were overturned due to an error in jury instructions.

The Skeloses are scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 24. Prosecutors said most of the charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

After the first trial, Wood had sentenced Dean Skelos to 5 years in prison and Adam to 6 ½.

In court papers, Robert Khuzami, a deputy U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, asked the judge to impose the same sentence for Adam as she did before, but hand down a more severe sentence for Dean Skelos. At a minimum, prosecutors said, Dean Skelos should be sentenced to at least as much time as his son.

Dean Skelos, the one-time Long Island power broker, was the public official and he is the father, prosecutors said.

“He is the one who swore an oath every two years to represent the public interest. He is the one who breached that duty to the public,” Khuzami said. “Without Dean Skelos’s willingness to abuse his power and his public office, these crimes would not have been possible.”

A week ago, Dean Skelos’ lawyers asked the judge for leniency, citing his struggles with mental health issues and problems with drinking, and a “rift” in his relationship with his son. Lawyers for Adam Skelos asked Wood to sentence him to a year and a day in prison, saying he had matured since the events that led to his conviction.

Prosecutors, however, said Dean Skelos did not offer any new information to compel the court to show him compassion. Rather, they said, Dean Skelos continues to believe he is a victim and refuses to accept responsibility for his crimes: “That all of this is the fault of his son,” Khuzami said.

Prosecutors said Dean Skelos quoted a friend who lamented that the former state senator’s legacy and accomplishments have been diminished and his livelihood has been taken from him.

“Nothing was taken from Dean Skelos. He threw it away,” Khuzami said. “He forfeited his right to be a Senator, or to practice law, when he violated the public’s trust and committed federal crimes to benefit himself and his family.”

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