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Feds had wiretap on Dean Skelos' cellphone for more than two months, prosecutors say

New York Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and

New York Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son Adam leave Southern District Federal Court in Manhattan after his initial hearing on corruption charges on Monday, May 4, 2015. Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Federal prosecutors Monday revealed that they had a wiretap on the cellphone of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos for 2 1/2 months during their corruption probe of the Republican power broker and his son, Adam.

The government also said that it tapped one Adam Skelos cellphone for four months and another for one month, and secretly gathered 2,400 audio files from father and son and thousands of pages of emails and texts.

The disclosures came at a brief hearing in federal court in Manhattan as the two men entered not guilty pleas to charges that Dean Skelos tried to "monetize" his political power by getting payments and a job for his son from a developer, an environmental firm and a malpractice insurer.

The two were charged in a criminal complaint in early May and indicted last week. U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood did not set a trial date, but set the next court appearance in the politically charged case for July 30.

Dean Skelos' lawyer, Robert Gage, and Adam Skelos' lawyer, Christopher Conniff, entered the pleas while their clients sat mute. Leaving court, they declined to comment.

"We're not going to say anything today beyond what we said in the courtroom," Gage told reporters.

Prosecutors told the judge that discovery in the case -- materials to be turned over to the defense for review -- was voluminous, involving "hundreds of thousands of documents with millions of pages."

In addition to the court-ordered wiretaps, prosecutor Rahul Mukhi said, the materials include massive numbers of emails and text messages obtained through search warrants, as well as "consensual audio and text messages made during the course of this investigation."

The government says Dean Skelos pressured the developer and environmental firm -- Glenwood Management and AbTech Industries, sources say -- to pay more than $200,000 to Adam Skelos in return for legislative support and lobbying Nassau officials on a $12 million storm-water antipollution contract.

The malpractice insurer, which prosecutors say gave Adam Skelos a no-show job and $100,000 in pay and benefits, has not been officially identified, but Roslyn-based Physicians Reciprocal Insurers issued a statement saying it had been contacted in the federal probe.

"We are aware that the U.S. Attorney is investigating Dean Skelos and his son, Adam," spokesman Matt Cannon said in an email. "PRI is cooperating with the U.S. Attorney and has no further comment since the investigation is ongoing."

The company, New York's second-largest malpractice insurer, is headed by Anthony Bonomo of Manhasset, whom Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recently named to lead the New York Racing Association, which regulates horse racing at the Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga tracks.

Bonomo and his wife, Mary Ellen, own two racing stables, Brooklyn Boyz Racing and MEB Stables. Campaign finance records show the Bonomos frequently contribute to political candidates, including Cuomo and Skelos.

Among recent donations, Mary Ellen Bonomo gave Cuomo $40,000 in 2013 and $20,000 to the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, then controlled by Skelos, last September.

Skelos, 67, resigned as majority leader after charges were filed, but he continues to represent his Nassau County district. Both he and Adam Skelos, 32, are from Rockville Centre.

The charges have come at a time of turmoil in Albany over ethical issues, just a few months after Democratic Assemb. Sheldon Silver of Manhattan stepped down as speaker under the shadow of federal corruption charges.

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