Dean Skelos, the former New York state Senate Majority Leader, was sentenced to five years behind bars on Thursday. His son, Adam Skelos, received 6.5 years.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the 68-year-old ex-lawmaker and his son were convicted of several federal corruption charges, including conspiracy, bribery, and extortion. U.S. prosecutors accused Skelos of using his position in government to obtain jobs and payments for his son.
Just before the sentence was announced, Skelos asked U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood to go easy on his adopted 33-year-old son. Skelos voiced regret for his actions, saying at some point his “judgement became clouded.”
“It is heartbreaking to stand before you with my son Adam, for sentencing,” he said. “I love Adam and pray that we have better days together.”
Judge Wood reprimanded Skelos for failing to follow his “moral compass” and using his powerful position to violate the trust of the people. After announcing the sentence, the judge reminded the court that the punishment was meant to show that corruption in office will not be tolerated.
While the government was asking for a 13-year prison sentence, Skelos received less than half of that. In addition to the prison term, Skelos was fined $500,000 and hit with a $334,120 forfeiture to be shared with his son Adam.
Adam Skelos also spoke to the court just before he learned of his sentence Thursday morning.
“What hurts me most about what has happened is the harm I have caused the people I love the most,” he said.
Defense lawyers contend the prosecution unfairly criminalized political activity and characterized an otherwise legitimate father-son relationship as a dishonest conspiracy.
According to Robert Gage, one of the attorneys representing the ex-legislator, Mr. Skelos is a thoughtful and kindhearted man with a lifetime of good works under his belt. He stuck his neck out many times to fight for controversial issues like medical marijuana and gay marriage.
During the hearing, Judge Wood asked Gage why Skelos did not use his numerous connections to get Adam a genuine job. He should have done that, Gage responded.
U.S. Attorney Jason Masimore said there was definitely a strong relationship between father and son, but the schemes Dean Skelos created were carried out over years.
“This wasn’t a lapse in judgment, but a very premeditated plan to cash in on that power and help members of the family, particularly Adam,” he added.
Prosecutors successfully argued that the senator put pressure on a real estate developer, an environmental technology company, and a medical malpractice insurer to hire Adam as a consultant and pay him $20,000 even if he never showed up. During trial, the jury heard from witnesses about Adam’s difficult behavior, like threatening a supervisor, when he did come to work. He also bragged to another person about hiding an extramarital affair from his wife.
Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said the men used a government power position for the private gain of Adam Skelos. Overall, the pair received extortion payments, bribes, and other gratuities totaling nearly $334,000.
Lawyers for Adam Skelos say their client is a troubled person struggling with mental-health problems and drug addiction. By knowing his suffering, you can begin to understand the relationship with his father and his actions, explained Christopher Conniff, an attorney for Adam.
“He’s somebody who has battled hardship,” Conniff said.” He’s lost his wife, he’s likely to use lose his home.”
Legal counsel for both Dean Skelos and Adam Skelos asked Judge Wood for sentences of probation with considerable amounts of community service instead of jail time, but the suggestions were rejected. Their attorneys are currently planning appeals.
[Photo by AP Photo/Mark Lennihan]