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Federal court upholds corruption convictions of Dean, Adam Skelos

Dean Skelos and his son Adam leaving Federal

Dean Skelos and his son Adam leaving Federal Court in Foley Square after a jury found them both guilty in their corruption case on Dec. 11, 2015. Credit: John Roca

A federal court on Tuesday upheld the 2018 convictions of Dean Skelos, the Long Island state senator who once was New York's most powerful Republican, and his son, Adam, on corruption charges.

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an array of claims by the Skeloses, including objections to the trial judge’s instructions to the jury.

"We conclude that Dean and Adam Skelos’s arguments are without merit," Circuit Judge John Walker Jr. wrote for the court in a 3-0 decision.

The ex-senator's attorney didn't immediately comment Tuesday.

Dean Skelos had served 31 years in the New York State Senate, including two stints when he was the majority leader and the state’s top-ranking GOP official.

But he was indicted and originally convicted in 2015 on charges that he had used his political power to corruptly secure work for Adam. Dean was accused of shaking down an insurer, a real estate company and an environmental contractor.

Later, that conviction was vacated and a new trial ordered as a result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in a separate case narrowing bribery statutes.

The second trial, in 2018, also resulted in convictions for Adam and Dean Skelos on conspiracy, extortion and bribery charges.

The ex-senator was sentenced to four years in prison but after testing positive for COVID-19 last April, he was released from prison to serve the remainder of his sentence under house arrest.

Adam Skelos’ request to be released from prison because of virus concerns was rejected last year.

Meanwhile, they continued their attempt to overturn the convictions.

Among their chief arguments: The trial judge improperly instructed the jury as to what constitutes quid pro quo bribery.

The 2nd Circuit rejected that claim.

"We are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that a rational jury, if properly instructed, would have found that Dean Skelos entered each quid pro quo arrangement with the understanding that he was expected to ‘to take official action on a specific and focused question or matter as the opportunities to take such action arose,’ " Walker wrote.

Another Skelos claim — that the indictment was legally deficient — was rejected, Walker wrote, because of a precedent-setting ruling in the conviction of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

For a five-year period before their indictments, Silver and Skelos overlapped as house leaders in the State Legislature. They were indicted three months apart in 2015.

The ex-senator's attorney didn't immediately comment Tuesday.

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