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Skelos, Silver postscript: LI firms face lobbying fines

Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos, R-Rockville Centre, left,

Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos, R-Rockville Centre, left, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, talk to reporters outside Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office at the Capitol after a budget meeting on Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Albany, N.Y. Photo Credit: AP / Mike Groll

ALBANY — Two Long Island companies were fined Wednesday for lobbying activities that were revealed in the public corruption trials of Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos, formerly the two most powerful men in the State Legislature.

In a postscript to scandals that rocked New York politics, the state ethics commission announced that Glenwood Management, a sprawling real-estate company based in New Hyde Park, and the Association for the Professions, a health-care management company based in Roslyn, agreed to pay penalties for lobbying activities that were uncovered during the Silver and Skelos trials in 2015.

In a nutshell, the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics said the trial exposed meetings and lobbying efforts that the companies failed to disclose in their annual mandated activity reports.

Part of that activity included either hiring or paying consultant fees to Dean Skelos’ son, Adam, who performed little or no work for his salary.

Glenwood will pay a penalty of $200,000. AFP, the management arm of Physicians Reciprocal Insurers, one of the state’s major malpractice insurers, will pay $70,000.

Neither Glenwood nor PRI were accused of criminal wrongdoing in the corruption trials — in fact, executives from both firms testified on behalf of prosecutors, who claimed Silver and Skelos extorted money from companies in exchange for favorable dealings in Albany. Yet by failing to disclose meetings and favors, the firms violated state lobbying laws.

A Glenwood attorney declined to comment. PRI didn’t return a call immediately to comment.

“These settlement agreements are the result of cooperation between the commission and the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and mark a major milestone in ethics law enforcement,” Seth Agata, executive director of the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics, said in a statement announcing the penalties. “The lawmakers who sought to use their official positions to secure unwarranted privileges have already been punished; the clients of lobbyists who facilitated these acts and provided those public officers with such special benefits are now facing the consequences of their actions.”

Skelos, 68, of Rockville Centre, who formerly led the state Senate, was convicted of bribery, conspiracy and extortion, ending the career of one of Long Island’s most influential politicians of the past three decades. Jurors found that Skelos and his son squeezed payments out of Glenwood, PRI and an Arizona firm in exchange for favorable legislation and contracts.

The former senator was sentenced to 5 years in prison; his son, 6 1⁄2. They are appealing the verdict.

Silver, 72, who led the State Assembly for 20 years, was convicted just months before Skelos, also on bribery, conspiracy and extortion charges. The jury found that Silver, among other things, pressured Glenwood to hire a certain tax certiorari firm that in turn funneled $4 million disguised as legal fees back to him. Silver was sentenced to 12 years but is free pending appeal.

Glenwood had many interests before state lawmakers annually, especially rent-control laws governing New York City apartments. In 2015, state lawmakers helped Physicians Reciprocal by extending a law that prevented it from being liquidated due to its negative fiscal balance.

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