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Skelos wanted to use info on Lee finances to thwart Cuomo, prosectors say

Former State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, right,

Former State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, right, and his son Adam Skelos, left, enter Southern District Federal Court in Manhattan on July 30, 2015. Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

ALBANY -- Sen. Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, discussed the strategy of using disclosure of the finances of Sandra Lee, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's partner, as a bargaining chip to deflect the governor's push for more disclosure about legislators' outside income, according to documents filed Monday related to the Skeloses' pending corruption trial.

"... Later today, I'm going to go after [the Governor] and I want him to disclose, you know [Sandra Lee's finances] and all this other stuff," Sen. Skelos said, according to snippets of wiretapped conversations lawyers are wrangling over less than two weeks before the trial is set to begin.

"Keep sticking with that," Adam replied, the papers said.

The conversations shown in court papers Monday were just the latest in the pretrial back and forth between prosecutors and attorneys for the former top Republican in New York politics.

Defense attorneys have filed motions seeking to block the jury from hearing various conversations involving the senator and his son, claiming they could unfairly prejudice the panel.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara filed a reply Monday opposing the motions, saying prosecutors need them to show how intertwined the two men's interests were and to counter an expected claim that the son exaggerated his influence with his father.

Lawyers for Dean and Adam Skelos didn't immediately return messages to comment.

Other conversations referred to in the motion included some previously released snippets, such as Adam Skelos' apparent happiness about flooding on Long Island because it could mean more business for a storm-water company that employed him and his attempt to get another senator to fix a ticket for one of the company officials caught talking on his phone while driving.Another conversation released Monday shows Adam allegedly complaining that while he's under scrutiny for attempts to win government business, no one is criticizing one of Cuomo's daughters for coming to the State Capitol to lobby for a farmworkers' bill.

"How can she get away with that?" Adam asks in the March phone call with his father.

Dean tells Adam that's because she isn't being paid, but Adam wasn't mollified.

"All right. I can't stand this family. I really can't stand this family," Adam Skelos said.

Dean Skelos replied: "Right."

"Thus, the calls cited above, during which Dean Skelos and Adam Skelos discussed using the disclosure of the Governor's significant other's outside income as a bargaining chip to increase Dean Skelos's strength in the negotiations, is direct evidence of the charged schemes," Bharara said in his memo opposing the Skeloses' motion.

The prosecutor said the conversations are about "the ways in which Dean Skelos can maximize his leverage with the governor during the budget negotiations."The two face eight charges, essentially alleging that the former Senate majority leader solicited bribes and extorted three different companies -- AbTech, an Arizona-based environmental company, Physicians Reciprocal Insurers, a Roslyn-based medical malpractice company, and Glenwood Management, a New Hyde Park-developer and the biggest campaign contributor in New York politics over the last decade -- to hire Adam in return for favorable legislation and public-works contracts.

Both men have pleaded not guilty. Their trial is set to begin Nov. 16.

Senate peers forced Skelos to resign as leader after being indicted, but he has held on to his elected office.

Prosecutors had wiretapped the senator's cellphone for 2.5 months, according to documents. They've released segments of calls with the indictments and with subsequent legal fights over evidence.

"Among other things, the calls are probative of Dean Skelos's agreement and intent to undertake official actions on behalf of Adam Skelos and the defendants' joint efforts to obtain and continue payments to Adam Skelos from entities that believed such payments were necessary to obtain Dean Skelos's official influence," Bharara said in arguing for allowing a jury to read the calls.

In an alleged conversation in February, Bharara said: "Adam Skelos told Dean Skelos that 'you guys are smarter and just more experienced, so, you know, you flip it on him. Then [Cuomo] goes crazy and then he comes back and he negotiates.' Dean Skelos replied, 'That's exactly right.' Adam Skelos replied, 'I love it, though. I think it's hilarious.'"

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