By Timothy Bolger and Desiree D’iorio
New York State Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and his son, Adam, opted not to testify at their corruption trial, which is coming to a close this week at Manhattan federal court.
Prosecutors rested their case Tuesday after hearing testimony from a lobbyist and two FBI agents. Judge Kimba Wood then asked the defense if they planned to call any witnesses of their own or if the Skeloses planned to take the stand themselves. They declined.
“I made a conscious decision not to testify,” the senator told the judge. When asked, his son reiterated the statement. And when the judge asked if they had anything to drink in the past 24 hours, the senator said he had a glass of wine and his son said he had a margarita.
The former state Senate Majority Leader allegedly coerced $300,000 in bribes in the form of jobs that his son was either unqualified for or where he didn’t show up in exchange for illegally manipulating legislation. Both men deny the accusations. The companies include Roslyn-based Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers (PRI), New Hyde Park-based Glenwood Management and Arizona-based AbTech Industries.
The senator’s friend, Nick Barrella, who’s a partner at Capital Group, a lobbying firm that PRI hired to lobby Skelos on medical malpractice regulations, testified that Adam also recruited Barrella to lobby legislation that would help AbTech. But Barrella said that he cut ties with AbTech in January after Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said, “Stay tuned,” upon announcing the arrest of former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), who was convicted of similar corruption charges in an unrelated case last week.
Of the two FBI agents who took the stand, one testified that he conducted surveillance on Sen. Skelos when Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano’s SUV picked up the senate majority leader from his Rockville Centre home while the two lawmakers were on their way to a New York City police officer’s funeral. The funeral is where Skelos asked Mangano about the county’s late payments to AbTech. Afterwards, Mangano’s deputy promptly made a call about it while still at the funeral, according to court testimony.
Prosecutors began their closing arguments Tuesday afternoon, but they did not finish before the judge sent the jury home for the day. Prosecutors are expected to conclude their closing arguments Wednesday morning before each defense attorney gives their own summation. Once concluded, the judge will instruct the jury on how to begin their deliberations.