The trial of the former state Senate majority leader and his son, Adam Skelos (pictured), begins with jury selection on Monday in Manhattan Federal Court.
Dean Skelos’ unconditional love for his ne’er-do-well son may prove to be his undoing.
The trial of the former state Senate majority leader and his son, Adam Skelos, begins with jury selection on Monday in Manhattan Federal Court.
The trial is expected to feature outrageous recorded conversations in which the younger Skelos bullies businessmen beholden to his dad. Added to the mix will likely be conversations between the father and son in which they trash-talk Gov. Cuomo’s girlfriend, Sandra Lee.
Legal experts said the amount of wiretapped conversations and cooperating witnesses make the case daunting for the defense. Filings in Manhattan Federal Court hint that the attorneys for both men will portray Adam as a struggling son who made empty boasts about his father’s influence.
One wiretapped conversation features a prescient warning from Dean to Adam.
“Right now we are in dangerous times, Adam,” Dean Skelos said, according to the papers.
He was right.
Dean Skelos, 67, and Adam, 32, face eight counts of bribery, extortion and conspiracy to commit honest services fraud for an alleged scheme in which the elder Skelos allegedly used his office to pressure businesses into giving his son cushy no-show jobs that earned him over $ 200,000 starting in 2010. In return, Dean allegedly took official action favorable to those businesses.
“It’s hard not to feel outrage as well as deep sympathy for the guy. Dean wasn’t lining his own pockets — he was helping his son out,” said Republican consultant Bill O’Reilly, who is no relation to the Fox News host.
“He was helping a son who was probably a little lost in life.”
Prosecutors say Adam even used a “burner phone” in a failed attempt to evade authorities.
The indictment details brazen examples of Dean Skelos allegedly using his official office to help his kid.
Dean Skelos’ attorney, Robert Gage, and Adam’s attorney, Christopher Conniff, have signaled they will try to make their clients sympathetic figures.
Dean Skelos is accused of pressuring an environmental energy company, AbTech, into giving his son a cushy $ 4,000-a-month consulting job though Adam admitted he “literally knew nothing about the water or, you know, any of that stuff,” according to papers. In return, Dean allegedly helped AbTech apply for a $ 12 million contract with Nassau County.
Prosecutors also say Adam Skelos was paid over $ 100,000 by a medical malpractice insurer seeking to curry favor with his dad.
Adam Skelos “threatened to “smash in” his boss’ head and said he’d “never amount to anything,” after the supervisor asked if Adam planned to show up to work at the insurer, according to documents.
After Adam allegedly threatened his boss, Skelos called up the CEO of the company asking why his son was being “harassed,” papers charge. The CEO was left with the impression there would be dire consequences in Albany if Adam Skelos wasn’t happy, papers claim.
Staff associated with three companies at the heart of the alleged scheme are expected to testify against Skelos at trial.
The October arrest was a new low for Adam, who in 2003 was accused of breaking into his then-girlfriend’s house and menacing her.
Dean’s attorney, Robert Gage, and Adam’s attorney, Christopher Conniff, have signaled they will try to make their clients sympathetic figures.
Filings indicate they want to tell a jury Adam was adopted and that he has an autistic son.
Gage and Conniff have argued that Adam’s bratty, bullying behavior is merely misstatements and “exaggerations” manipulated by the government. And they say Dean, a Rockville Centre Republican, never agreed to perform official acts in exchange for the jobs given to his son.
Albany Law School professor Vin Bonventre wondered whether the father-son bond will survive the trial.
“If the son is as much of a lowlife as the indictment paints him, would it really be that surprising if he turned on his dad?” he asked.