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Feds indict State Senate's No. 2 Republican

Deputy Senate Majority Leader Thomas Libous talks to

Deputy Senate Majority Leader Thomas Libous talks to reporters on the Senate floor before session in Albany. (Jan. 14, 2013) Credit: AP

ALBANY -- The State Senate's No. 2 Republican, Thomas Libous, was indicted Tuesday on federal charges of lying about a job he allegedly secured for his son -- a potential blow to Republicans' efforts to retain control of the Senate.

The indictment says Libous, the deputy majority leader and ally of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, lied in 2010 in denying that he promised to steer business to a Westchester law firm in exchange for a job for his son.

Libous (R-Binghamton) told a partner in the firm that he would have to "build a new wing" to take care of all the business the firm would receive if it hired Libous' son, Matthew, according to the indictment.

Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District in Manhattan, said a lobbying firm that worked on issues Libous could influence paid $50,000 a year to help fund Matthew Libous' "inflated salary" and perks, including a Range Rover vehicle.

Matthew Libous, 36, of Westchester, was indicted Tuesday on six counts of charges related to tax evasion.

Matthew Libous was accused of failing to report more than $268,000 in income from 2007 to 2011. He also was charged with filing false records as a minority partner in the Wireless Construction Solutions company in White Plains. The indictment says Libous used company funds for expenses including casino trips, vacations, iTunes purchases, an Internet dating subscription, indoor tanning and to pay off student loans.

If convicted, Libous could face five years in prison. He and his son pleaded not guilty.

"I am innocent of these charges," the senator told reporters Tuesday. "We are going to fight them. I'm not going to let them hold me back."

The senator's indictment is the latest of more than 30 federal and state cases brought against state officials within the past decade.Last year, Bharara told a state anti-corruption panel: "Public corruption, based on all the evidence, appears rampant."

The indictment also comes as the Senate Republican conference is trying to hold onto the party's last power center in state politics. Cuomo, a Democrat who had long been allied with GOP senators, helped broker a deal last week to unite Democrats into a working majority beginning next year.

Republicans share majority control with five breakaway Democrats. Senate Republicans also face several tough races in the Democrat-dominated state, including at least two on Long Island.

"I have always known Tom Libous to be a hardworking and outstanding representative for his district and all of New York State," Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) said in a statement. "I have confidence that our legal system will fully and fairly review this matter."

Skelos wouldn't say if Libous, 61, who is combating cancer, will remain in the GOP conference. Legislators can remain in office under indictment -- two Democrats in the 63-seat chamber are in that position now -- but are expelled automatically upon convictions.

In a statement Tuesday, Bharara said "Thomas Libous took advantage of his position as senator and chairman of the Transportation Committee by corruptly causing lobbyists, who wanted Libous' influence to benefit their clients, to funnel money through a law firm to his son where Libous has gotten his son a position. He then tried to cover up his corrupt conduct by lying to FBI agents about his knowledge of his son's arrangement with the firm."

"This office will continue to pursue elected officials who attempt to take corrupt advantage of their positions," Bharara said. He secured a guilty plea Friday from Assemb. Gabriela Rosa (D-Manhattan) on charges that she participated in a sham marriage to gain U.S. residency.

In 2012, when allegations that Libous helped secure the job for his son, the senator said: "There was no quid pro quo arrangement with the law firm . . . I made no promises and nothing transpired between me or my office and the firm."

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