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U.S. Attorney Bharara fights Skelos' bid to dismiss charges

Adam Skelos, left, and Sen. Dean Skelos, right,

Adam Skelos, left, and Sen. Dean Skelos, right, as they left federal court in May. Credit: AP / Craig Ruttle

ALBANY -- U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara asked a federal judge Friday not to dismiss corruption charges against state Sen. Dean Skelos, saying the senator had no legal grounds to have the charges dropped.

Bharara, who has accused Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and his son, Adam, of bribery and extortion, filed a motion opposing Skelos' request, filed Sept. 4, to dismiss the charges.

A prominent development company, an environmental firm and a medical malpractice insurer -- all with Nassau County ties -- are expected to testify against Skelos in a trial slated for November, Bharara's office said in its submission to the court. The prosecutor has alleged that Skelos pressured them to set up his son with high-paying jobs.

"Witnesses . . . are expected to testify at trial that they made payments to Adam Skelos in response to demands from Dean Skelos and based on their fear that, if they did not make the payments, Dean Skelos would cease taking official actions in their favor and would take official actions against them," Bharara wrote.

Prosecutors have alleged that Skelos extorted a real estate company -- since identified as New Hyde Park-based Glenwood Development, one of the largest campaign contributors to New York politicians over the last 15 years -- to make campaign contributions to Republicans and finance a job for his son through an environmental company. Skelos allegedly pressured Nassau County to award the environmental firm a $12 million storm-water contract, and then shepherded state legislation that benefitted the real estate company.

Further, the senator allegedly pressured an insurance company -- since identified as Roslyn-based Physicians Reciprocal -- to not only give his son a full-time job on the payroll at a $78,000 salary, but also to steer court reporting business to a firm that employed Adam Skelos' wife. In return, the senator allegedly sped up the renewal of legislation that protected the insurer from being liquidated.

Sen. Skelos has said he and his son are innocent. His Republican colleagues forced Skelos to step down as majority leader in May, but he has retained his Senate seat.

Earlier in September, the senator's lawyer said prosecutors had no cause to tap the Skelos' phones and that, in some cases, Skelos took no official action to benefit the companies referred to in the indictment.

Bharara argued Friday that extortion and bribery cases have established that a lawmaker doesn't have to follow through with official action but merely create the threat.

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