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Deliberations in Skelos corruption trial begin

State Sen. Dean Skelos and his wife Gail

State Sen. Dean Skelos and his wife Gail with news reporters as they make their way into a Manhattan federal court Thursday. Credit: John Roca

Jurors in the political corruption trial of state Sen. Dean Skelos in Manhattan federal court completed a first day of deliberations Thursday without a verdict, asking for more testimony and evidence in the first hour than the panel that convicted former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver requested in three days.

Among evidence sought: testimony from nine witnesses, including officials at three companies that Skelos and his son Adam allegedly extorted, as well as former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato and chief deputy Nassau County executive Rob Walker.

Jurors asked for a playback of six wiretapped phone calls, including a conversation between Skelos and Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, in which the senator complained about late payments on a county contract with a company that had hired Adam, along with 13 exhibits including emails and a whiteboard.

The requests came just 40 minutes after U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood finished her instructions. The transcripts hadn’t been provided and the recordings hadn’t been played by the time the jury left at 5 p.m. Wood told the panel to resume deliberations Friday morning.

Dean Skelos, 67, the former Senate Republican majority leader, and Adam Skelos, 33, both of Rockville Centre, allegedly used the senator’s power to pressure companies into giving Adam jobs and fees worth $300,000, and then did favors for the firms and helped one with a Nassau contract.

The “shakedown” scheme, prosecutors said, targeted New Hyde Park developer Glenwood Management, malpractice company Physicians Reciprocal Insurers of Roslyn, and AbTech Industries, the Arizona company with a $10 million storm-water treatment contract with Nassau.

That contract was the subject of the Mangano-Skelos wiretap jurors asked to rehear along with calls between Dean and Adam Skelos before a discussion the senator and Mangano had at a Jan. 4 police funeral about getting AbTech paid — one of the corrupt official acts alleged by the government.

Prosecutors alleged Skelos told companies that needed him that Adam was struggling in his career, when in fact he was bringing in a six-figure annual income. Jurors also requested exhibits relating to Adam Skelos’ finances.

The defense at the Skelos trial claimed the senator did what fathers normally do to help their sons’ careers, but his actions never intersected with his official duties. There was no evidence of explicit threats or promises, and the defense said Skelos didn’t alter long-standing legislative stances to help anyone.

But Wood, during her jury instructions Thursday morning, said that a corrupt understanding did not have to be explicit to be criminal, and the government was also not required to prove that Skelos changed his position.

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