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Dean Skelos lawyers cite Silver reversal in appeal

Former New York state Senate leader Dean Skelos,

Former New York state Senate leader Dean Skelos, left, and his son Adam Skelos, above in Manhattan in 2015. Credit: AP / Richard Drew

Lawyers for former state Senate leader Dean Skelos told a federal appeals court in Manhattan on Monday that the recent decision reversing the corruption conviction of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has strengthened Skelos’ case for same treatment.

Skelos was convicted in 2015 of doing favors for businesses that helped his son, Adam. The 2d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ three-judge panel hearing his appeal asked the defense and prosecutors to weigh in about the effect of the Silver ruling and another new decision affirming the conviction of former Assemb. William Boyland.

All three cases involved a common issue — a new definition by the Supreme Court requiring a formal exercise of government power rather than just a meeting or phone call to prove a quid pro quo bribery scheme under the federal law prohibiting “honest services fraud.”

Lawyers for Skelos said the Silver ruling undercut arguments for sustaining his conviction based on meetings with lobbyists over legislation that he had favored for years. Prosecutors said the Boyland ruling, which held that under a different federal law a wider variety of actions was sufficient for conviction, strengthened their hand.

The 2d Circuit has not signaled when it may rule on the appeals of Skelos and his son, Adam.

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