Dean Skelos retrial date set for June 18
Manhattan U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood on Tuesday scheduled the retrial of former state Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, on corruption charges for June 18 of next year.
The retrial will cap off a corruption trifecta in the Manhattan federal court next year — with the Skelos retrial following the scheduled trial of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomos former aide Joe Percoco in January, and the retrial of former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver in April.
The Skeloses were convicted in 2015 of a scheme in which Dean Skelos allegedly used his power in the Senate to pressure a developer, a malpractice insurer and a technology company into giving no-show jobs and consulting fees to Adam.
But last month, the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the convictions, ruling that jury instructions hadn’t reflected a later U.S. Supreme Court finding that narrowed federal corruption laws, requiring officials to exercise power instead of just make a phone call or set up a meeting.
The court did, however, say that there was sufficient evidence for a properly instructed jury to convict the two Skeloses, and Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon Kim immediately announced plans for a retrial.
Prosecutors told Wood they had hoped to retry the case earlier than June, but Wood deferred to Robert Gage, Skelos’ defense lawyer, who said he was tied up on other cases.
The retrial could have some significant differences from the first trial. The Supreme Court’s ruling, setting a higher standard on what kind of behavior by an official is needed to establish a crime, could narrow the government’s evidence.
In addition, one star witness at the first trial was Anthony Bonomo, the head of a company that controlled malpractice firm Physicians Reciprocal Insurers of Roslyn, who testified that the company’s need for Albany legislation influenced the hiring of Adam Skelos when Dean pushed for it.
Since the trial, Bonomo’s horse Always Dreaming won the Kentucky Derby, but he was ousted from his post by state regulators amid charges of self-dealing, cronyism and mismanagement that could provide ammunition for the defense to attack his credibility.