Dean Skelos, while he was leading the State Senate, repeatedly asked real estate executives to help his son as they sought the senator’s support for crucial legislation, an executive testified Friday in the Skeloses’ retrial on federal corruption charges.
Charles Dorego, senior vice president and general counsel at developer Glenwood Management in New Hyde Park, recounted multiple instances when then Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos requested that title insurance work be sent to Adam Skelos, who at the time was employed by a title insurer.
Dorego testified Friday that Dean Skelos, at the conclusion of a 2012 meeting about lucrative tax breaks for real estate developers, said, “I would really appreciate it if you could find some title work for Adam.”
The request was one of eight made by Dean Skelos between 2010 and 2012, according to Dorego, a star prosecution witness. He also said the senior Skelos always demanded the same thing — title insurance work for his son — and the demands took place either at the start or end of meetings about legislation or political campaigns.
Dorego, who is testifying for the federal government under an agreement that he will not be prosecuted, said Dean Skelos’ requests to aid Adam Skelos became more intense over time. “It was more than a request,” Dorego said, referring to a conversation with the senator in early 2012. “He was firm . . . It was a soft demand.”
Dean Skelos, 70, and Adam Skelos, 35, are accused of using Dean’s position as one of state government’s three most powerful individuals to pressure businesses into giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to Adam in the form of jobs, medical insurance and payments. In return, Dean promised to support legislation needed by those helping his son, according to the indictment.
The retrial comes after the Skeloses’ 2015 convictions were reversed because of a later U.S. Supreme Court decision, which more narrowly defined the kind of quid-pro-quo bribery scheme a public official must engage in to be convicted of bribery. The high court said a public official must do more than make a telephone call or arrange a meeting.
The Skeloses, of Rockville Centre, have denied wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty.
On Friday, the jury heard hours of testimony about how Glenwood Management, which needed the support of Dean Skelos and his fellow Republican senators, did not fulfill Dean’s request for title insurance work for Adam for about two years.
However, fears of retribution by the Skeloses and delays in securing a job for Adam Skelos with a Glenwood-linked environment company led to the younger Skelos receiving $20,000 in title insurance fees from a real estate project on Long Island.
“There were many ways that a man as powerful as him could do something to the business or to me,” Dorego said, referring to Dean Skelos. “I knew he had a temper . . . I was concerned about my job.”
Dean Skelos’ alleged attempts to enrich his son went beyond requests to real estate executives.
According to Friday’s testimony, the senator made telephone calls when the title insurance work for Adam Skelos appeared to be jeopardy and helped his son negotiate a job with AbTech Industries Inc., an Arizona manufacturer of storm-water treatment products in which Glenwood’s owners were major shareholders.
Adam Skelos eventually helped AbTech win a $12 million contract from Nassau County, but not before he demanded a higher sales commission from AbTech, Dorego testified.
“Adam was livid that the engineers [on the Nassau project]were going to make more money than he was,” Dorego said, adding the Skeloses threatened to scuttle the state legislation Nassau needed to buy AbTech products. “Adam was going to stop the project because he thought he wasn’t going to get paid enough.”
AbTech executives hiked Adam Skelos’ sales commission after receiving what Dorego said was his “extortionist” email message in April 2013.
The retrial continues Monday.