Ex-State Senate leader, son guilty of extortion

Posted at 8:59 AM, Dec 12, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-12 08:59:45-05

Former New York Senate leader Dean Skelos and his adult son have been convicted of charges that the once-powerful Republican used his office to extort about $300,000 in salary and other benefits for the son.

A federal jury in Manhattan reached the verdict Friday after a public corruption trial that featured wiretap recordings of unvarnished conversations between Skelos and his only child, Adam.

Prosecutors said the tapes were proof the pair schemed behind the scenes to pressure three companies into agreeing to employ his 33-year-old son.

The defense argued that Skelos was merely a loving father eager to take care of his only child, not a politician on the take.

Late last month, another jury convicted former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver of bribery.

Many Western New York lawmakers, including State Assemblyman Michael Kearns are hoping legislation can be passed so this type of corruption never happens again.

Lawmakers and the public are outraged that Silver and Skelos will still be able to collect their pensions, even while sitting in a jail cell.

"A public office is a public trust and if you breach that trust, you shouldn't be able to get your pension," said Kearns. "We can't have excuses anymore, we need to go to Albany to do the people's business."

Kearns says last year, the Assembly introduced a bill that would take away pension for any politician who's convicted of a crime. The bill passed in the Assembly, but stalled in the Senate. He's hoping given these recent convictions, the bill can be re-introduced when session starts in January.

"I would like to see a de-centralizing of this power. We need to push and advocate for change," Kearns said.




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