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Skelos lawyer: Key prosecution witness should be probed

Former New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean

Former New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos Credit: Charles Eckert

A lawyer for Dean Skelos on Tuesday blasted federal prosecutors for not doing enough to investigate Anthony Bonomo, the malpractice mogul who was a key government witness at Skelos’ 2015 trial but was ousted by the state from his company for mismanagement last year.

“The U.S. Attorney has a duty to investigate cases,” lawyer Robert Gage told U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood at a hearing on Skelos’ upcoming retrial on extortion charges. “For whatever reason it appears they’re not doing that to protect a witness and preserve a conviction. It’s wrong.”

Former New York state Senate Majority Leader Skelos was convicted in 2015 of using his legislative clout to get jobs or consulting arrangements for his son Adam, also convicted, including a no-show job with Bonomo’s company, which controlled malpractice firm Physicians Reciprocal Insurers of Roslyn.

The Skeloses’ convictions were reversed last year after the U.S. Supreme Court narrowed public corruption laws. At their retrial starting June 18 Bonomo is expected to reprise testimony that he kept Adam on the payroll despite poor performance because of Dean’s control over malpractice legislation.

Last year, however, the state Department of Financial Services booted Bonomo from control of the insurer, citing cronyism, self-dealing, mismanagement and breach of fiduciary duty. The two sides are struggling over how much the defense can use those findings to undercut his testimony.

Gage contends Bonomo violated the cooperation agreement with the government under which he testified. He said jurors should get the full story about the state’s findings because Bonomo’s alleged misconduct would give him a motive — aside from legislation — to have curried favor with Skelos, and a motive now to skew his testimony to curry favor with prosecutors.

“Mr. Bonomo is a major witness,” said John Kenney, Adam Skelos’ lawyer. “His credibility must be explored. The New York State Department of Financial Services has identified him as a colossal crook.”

The defense wants latitude in cross-examining Bonomo and a more complete investigation by the government of what he did. Prosecutors told Wood that although they take the allegations “seriously” and are discussing them with Bonomo, testimony about his ouster would create a “sideshow” and distract from charges against the Skeloses.

“These are just allegations,” said prosecutor Douglas Zolkind. “They are disputed. They are the subject of ongoing litigation.”

Wood did not rule on the Bonomo evidence, or several other pending issues, including a request from the Skeloses to move the trial from New York to the Midwest.

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