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Juror in Skelos trial asks to be relieved to go on vacation

Dean Skelos arrives at the federal courthouse in

Dean Skelos arrives at the federal courthouse in Manhattan on Monday. Credit: John Roca

A juror in the corruption retrial of Dean and Adam Skelos predicted Monday that reaching a verdict “may take longer than a week,” and asked to be released from the panel so as not to miss a planned vacation.

Monday was jurors’ second full day of deliberations in which they began reviewing hundreds of requested pages of witness testimony, emails and wiretapped telephone calls.

The jurors said they would resume deliberating on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. in federal court in Manhattan. 

The six men and six women, none of whom are from Long Island, face a deadline of sorts because U.S. District Court Judge Kimba M. Wood promised Monday to excuse the juror with the upcoming vacation on Thursday afternoon.

The juror is a woman from Westchester County who is a retired government worker, according to her responses to questions posed during jury selection last month.

If no verdict is reached before she leaves, an alternate juror will join the jury — but deliberations will have to start from scratch.

The female juror, in a note Monday to the judge, said, “We will start to deliberate today and it may take longer than a week. I will appreciate [it] if you can dismiss me and get an alternate to replace me.”

Under questioning from Wood, the juror said her cruise begins Saturday.

“I have to get my hair done … I have to get the dogs to the kennel,” the juror said when asked if she could participate in jury deliberations through Friday.

The judge responded by suggesting the juror continue to serve until Thursday at 2:30 p.m., which she agreed to do.

Three years ago, in the Skeloses’ first trial on federal corruption charges, the jury found them guilty on all counts in the second day of deliberations.

The retrial was ordered after the Skeloses’ 2015 convictions were overturned because a later U.S. Supreme Court decision redefined one of the crimes that the Rockville Centre pair were found guilty of.

The high court, in a decision involving a former Virginia governor, more narrowly defined the kind of quid-pro-quo bribery scheme a public official must engage in to be convicted of bribery. The court said a public official must do more than make a telephone call or arrange a meeting.

The Skeloses are accused of using Dean Skelos’ position as then-State Senate majority leader to win employment and cash for Adam Skelos, valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars over about five years. In return, the Republican promised to vote for legislation needed by those aiding his son, according to the indictment.

Dean Skelos, 70, and Adam Skelos, 36, both have denied wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty.

The retrial, which began June 19, featured 14 days of testimony from 19 witnesses — all but two of them for the prosecution.

The Skeloses’ retrial is the last of four corruption cases involving state government to be heard in Manhattan this year. 

Last week, the former SUNY official leading Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion economic development initiative was convicted of orchestrating a bid-rigging scheme. Developers from Buffalo and Syracuse also were found guilty.

Earlier this year, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and ex-Cuomo aide Joseph Percoco were convicted of corruption in separate trials.

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