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Witness in Skelos case: I was told to pay Adam Skelos $20,000

Adam Skelos exits at a federal courthouse in

Adam Skelos exits at a federal courthouse in Manhattan during his retrial, Monday, June 26, 2018. Credit: Charles Eckert

Adam Skelos was paid $20,000 by a title insurer for doing no work as part of a plan to please his father, Dean Skelos, the one-time Albany legislative kingpin, a witness testified Tuesday in the Skeloses’ retrial on federal corruption charges.

Thomas K. Dwyer, a former co-owner of American Land Abstract in Syosset, said he was directed in 2012 to make the payment to Adam Skelos by an executive at developer Glenwood Management, which was seeking State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos’ support for real-estate legislation. Glenwood was the largest customer of Dwyer’s company, Dwyer said.

Testifying for the prosecution on Tuesday, Dwyer said Glenwood general counsel Charles Dorego “asked if I could do something for Adam. I understood that to mean he wants me to pay Adam a referral fee” for title insurance work on a real-estate project.

His testimony in Manhattan federal court echoed that of Dorego, who told the jury last week that Adam Skelos’ $20,000 payment had to come from a business not tied to New Hyde Park-based Glenwood because the mega-landlord was lobbying Adam’s father for his Senate votes. Dwyer said American Land Services, a company where he also worked as an executive, eventually cut the check for Adam.

“Did Adam Skelos perform any work for your company in exchange for the $20,000 check?” asked prosecutor Douglas Zolkind.

Dwyer responded, “No.”

“Did he refer the deal to you?” Zolkind said.

“No,” responded Dwyer, who served as a North Hempstead Town councilman from 2002 to 2013.

In February 2013, Adam Skelos received the $20,000 check in an envelope from Dwyer at CoolFish, a now-closed Syosset restaurant.

The Skeloses are accused of using Dean Skelos’ position as one of state government’s three most powerful individuals to secure jobs and payments for Adam. In return, Dean promised to back 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 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.

Dean Skelos, 70, and Adam Skelos, 35, both have denied wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty.

The Rockville Centre pair are accused of multiple quid-pro-quo schemes with three businesses that paid Adam Skelos hundreds of thousands of dollars. Each company needed Dean Skelos’ support for key bills before the Senate.

In the case of Glenwood, which owns more than two dozen apartment buildings in Manhattan, one top executive testified last week that he felt “pressured” by Dean Skelos, a Republican, to help Adam Skelos or risk losing the senator’s endorsement of renewing lucrative tax breaks for developers.

Dwyer said Tuesday that upon learning of the $20,000 payment to Adam, Dorego, the Glenwood executive, said, “I hope this gets Dean off my back.”

Later Tuesday, attorneys for the Skeloses peppered Dwyer with questions about statements that he made to prosecutors in 2015.

“You lied when you met with prosecutors, correct?” asked Robert Gage Jr., a lawyer for Dean Skelos.

“I did not tell the full truth,” responded Dwyer.

Gage added, “You have received a complete pass from the prosecution for making false statements to them.” Dwyer did not comment.

Another witness, mortgage banker John Perfetti Jr., testified that Adam Skelos used the $20,000 payment from Dwyer’s company to help make the case that he should receive a $417,000 loan to purchase a Rockville Centre house, priced at $675,000, in 2012.

Adam Skelos, on the mortgage application and in subsequent letters to the lender, also listed his jobs with Physicians Reciprocal Insurers, a medical malpractice insurance company in Roslyn, and AbTech Industries Inc., an Arizona manufacturer of storm-water treatment products. Both were won with help from Dean Skelos, who allegedly asked executives to help his son in return for supporting bills that were important to them, according to the indictment.

The retrial continues Wednesday.

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