A federal appeals court in Manhattan overturned the 2015 corruption conviction of ex-New York State Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and his son, Adam, on Tuesday, triggering the possibility of a retrial.
The U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled that part of U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood’s instructions to the jury was invalidated by a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. The decision in the Skelos case was hailed by his attorney and assailed by prosecutors.
“Senator Skelos is grateful for the court’s careful consideration of the issues and looks forward to the next steps,” said Alexandra Shapiro, the attorney who won Skelos’ appeal. “We believe that as events unfold it is going to become clear that this is a case that never should have been brought.”
Joon Kim, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York whose office tried the case under the leadership of his predecessor, Preet Bharara, issued a statement signaling that another trial is on the horizon.
“While we are disappointed in the decision and will weigh our appellate options, we look forward to a prompt retrial where we will have another opportunity to present the overwhelming evidence of Dean Skelos and Adam Skelos’s guilt and again give the public the justice it deserves,” Kim said. “Cleaning up corruption is never easy, and that is certainly true for corruption in New York State government. But we are as committed as ever to doing everything we can to keep our government honest.”
Wood had sentenced the former GOP majority leader of the state Senate to 5 years in prison and his son to 6 ½ years behind bars, but stayed the execution of their sentencing while the appeals were pending.
Prosecutors said Dean pressured Roslyn-based medical malpractice firm Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers (PRI), New Hyde Park-based developer Glenwood Management and Arizona-based storm water filter manufacturer AbTech Industries for no-show jobs and payments for his son in exchange for favorable legislative treatment.
All three companies had business before the state at the time. The senator’s defense attorney argued that there was no quid pro quo because he never changed his vote on legislation in exchange for anything.
The overturning of the Skelos verdict comes two months after the federal appeals panel reversed the conviction of ex-state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), who was convicted on corruption charges days before Skelos. Silver, whose 12-year sentence was also stayed pending appeal, is additionally facing a retrial.